"Orders thought Meete ..." was published under the auspices of Elizabeth I during an outbreak of the plague in England and presents a fascinating look at public health, epidemiology, and illness in the late sixteenth century. The book contains instructions for the Queen’s emissaries in identifying towns struck by plague and then directs them in how to proceed with taxation, issues related to quarantine, and the handling of the clothing and bodies of those who died. It concludes with recipes for preparing medicines that would, purportedly, prevent the plague or cure it if already contracted.

Typed transcriptions, both in the vernacular and in modern English, accompany the text to aid comprehension. Over 50 plants suggested for use as preventatives and curatives are linked with corresponding images, most in color from the Missouri Botanical Garden, and with instructive quotes from the 1633 edition of The Herball by John Gerard.

To the sore itself do thus.  Take two hand-
ful of Valerian, three roots of Danewort, a
handful of Smallage, or Lovage, if you can
get it, seethe them all in butter and water, & a few
crumbs of bread, and make a poultice thereof, &
lay it warm to the sore until it break.
                            "Orders thought Meete ..."

[For more on the book, read Professor Duane Osheim's overview]

© 2007 Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia