Understanding contagious diseases: Baillou’s notes on Julien Le Paulmier’s De morbis contagiosis

Vivian Nutton


A Wellcome library copy of Le Paulmier’s De morbis contagiosis (1578) was extensively annotated by De Baillou over at least fourteen years. After reading it through once, he embarked on a more detailed reading, filling its margins with many notes, comments and contradictions, as well as compiling an index of remedies and another of topics. His concern throughout is with symptoms and cures, and he does not engage in the theoretical debates common in contemporary plague texts, although the ideas of Fracastoro were already well known. His favoured sources are those of Antiquity, supplemented by more recent Paris publications. He criticizes Le Paulmier on many occasions, drawing on his own experiences and the information given him by friends. His notes also throw light on his religious and political beliefs.


annotation; Guillaume de Baillou; Julien Le Paulmier’s De morbis contagiosis; plague

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