Popular name for a "medicine" or a defence against the plague. The internal and external use of vinegar against various diseases and as a protective agent was already common in antiquity. According to one version, the "invention" of plague vinegar dates back to 1720, when the plague raged in southern France. According to tradition, four thieves went around robbing the dying and the dead. They were assured of impunity if they revealed the secret of their apparent immunity to the epidemic. This they then did. That is why it is also called robber's vinegar, four-robber vinegar or poison vinegar; lat. acetum pestilentiale prophylacticum. To protect oneself against infectious diseases, one should rinse one's mouth with plague vinegar, wash various parts of the body with it or take a few spoonfuls of it daily. In addition, to protect themselves from the plague, doctors wore a leather robe with an overcoat and a mask. The beak-like appendage contained herbs or vinegar sponges to "filter" the air (middle picture from the 17th century).
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