Plague doctors were required to wear a mask that resembled the beak of a bird in order to protect themselves from contracting fatal diseases such as the Black Death, which was thought to spread via the air. In point of fact, they believed that miasma, a particularly poisonous sort of ‘poor air,’ was responsible for the spread of sickness.
The mask was worn with the intention of warding off unpleasant odors, often referred to as miasma, which were believed to be the primary factor in the development of the sickness. The physicians thought that the herbs would neutralize the ‘evil’ odours given out by the plague and protect their patients from catching the disease.
Why do Doctors wear bird-like masks?
In a disturbing episode of the show Today I Found Out (previously), host Simon Whistler reveals why doctors in the past wore masks that looked pretty unsettling and eerily resembled the beak of a bird. As it turns out, the precise purpose of this design was to keep the physician well away from any potentially infectious secretions that a plague sufferer could have.