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13 Historical photos that will strike fear through your heart

8. The Plague Doctor Mask


Obviously, they did not have cameras in the 17th and 18th centuries to take photos of anything, but the mask pictured above is a real one from that time period, and it is in a museum in England. The photo of people donning the mask, though, is enough to make anyone shiver.

This is what they really looked like wearing the beak-like mask, and ankle-length overcoat. As physicians, they definitely did not look the part of a healer, but there were reasons for the frightening appearance. The long nose of the mask was often filled with different aromatic items such as lavender, dried flowers, herbs, and spices.

The purpose of it was to keep to keep putrid smells away, and they believed the herbs would counteract the “evil” smells of the plague, thus preventing them from becoming infected. Although the Bubonic Plague took place in the 14th century and the doctors were thought to also wear bird-like masks, this exact kind of mask is attributed to Charles de Lorme in 1619 and was used by physicians during the Plague of 1656, which killed 445,000 people in Europe.

Then, as now, people were terrified of the mask. To them, it meant imminent death. To us, it is a reminder of what could happen, and what (according to statistics) should happen, as we are long overdue for a pandemic of massive proportions.



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