Long before there was AIDS to terrify us into safe sexual practices, there was syphilis. Spreading quickly throughout the 1500's, syphilis was considered (as AIDS is today) the "New Plague" and its symptoms were ugly and severe: open sores, acute fever, severe headache, intense osteoscopic pains, and delirium, followed by the relief of death. In the later stages, syphilis would attack the brain, leading to insanity. There were numerous social repercussions of this plague, with victims of the disease being branded as "vile creatures" and "wicked beasts" by English venereologist William Clowes. The Protestant Church declared that the disease was "God's Will" and His way of punishing sinners. (Doesn't that ring a bell?) Of course, as is the norm in history, women were most severely punished, with many people believing that syphilis was caused by having intercourse with menstruating women, and prostitutes were the "new social lepers" of European society. One good thing that came out of all this was the invention of the condom to combat the disease. That, of course, is another parallel with the AIDS crisis. Some go so far as to even suggest that there may be a biological link between syphilis and AIDS, since AIDS patients seem immune to syphilis. Whatever the case may be, there is no doubt that syphilis has played a major role in the conditioning of sexual mores throughout the ages, and, as you can tell by these lovely pictures, is a very nasty contagion indeed. Modern victims need not fear, however, for with the advent of penicillin the bacilli were brought under control. A sigh of relief is breathed everywhere...

Most of the facts in the above paragraph were shamelessly swiped from Garn LeBaron Jr.'s Sexual Relations In Renaissance Europe website. Images were gleaned from Tom's Medical And Forensic Images.


Death Threats...