Plague riot. E. Lissner
Surprisingly, people in different historical eras behave the same, despite the different levels of education and culture of society. The Plague in Russia in 1770-1771 at first caused panic and fear, and then an outbreak of violence and the Plague riot in Moscow.
Plague is one of the oldest diseases. Traces of the plague stick were found in the remains of people who lived in the Bronze Age (five thousand years ago). This disease caused two of the deadliest pandemics in human history, killing hundreds of millions of people. The disease spread rapidly, destroying the population of entire cities, devastating countries and regions. Some of its forms caused almost 100% mortality. No wonder one of the four biblical horsemen of the apocalypse is pestilence. It was possible to overcome the plague only with the invention of antibiotics and vaccines, although infectious outbreaks still occur in various countries.
The plague is known in the Bible, which describes the epidemic among the Philistines and Assyrians, which destroys entire cities and armies. The first major pandemic is the Justinian Plague (551–580), which began in North Africa and encompassed the entire “civilized world,” that is, Byzantium and Western Europe. In Constantinople, from 5 to 10 thousand people died every day, in the capital of the empire, two-thirds of the population died. In total, up to 100 million people died. In the 100th century, Europe experienced a terrible epidemic of "black death" brought from Asia. She also caused great damage to the Muslim countries of the Middle East and Africa. According to various estimates, she killed from 200 to 30 million people. Only in Europe died from 60 to XNUMX% of the population. Plague from the Baltic region penetrated into Russia, through the trading cities of Pskov and Novgorod, and spread further. Some settlements and towns have died out completely. Among the dead was the Grand Duke of Vladimir and Moscow Simeon the Proud.
Then, several more major epidemics swept the world, which claimed many lives. The third pandemic originated in 1855 in China. For several decades, it spread across all continents, its echoes were noted until 1959. Only in China and India killed millions of people.
People in the Ancient World and in the Middle Ages did not know the cause of the disease. They connected it with the “divine punishment”, the unfavorable arrangement of celestial bodies or natural disaster (earthquake). Some doctors believed that the plague was associated with “miasms,” “bad fumes” from swamps, the sea coast, etc. Medieval methods of fighting plague (using aromatherapy, perfumes, precious stones and metals, bloodletting, cutting or cauterizing bubo ulcers etc.) were ineffective, often contributed to the spread of the disease. The most effective method was quarantine (from the Italian quaranta giorni - “forty days”). So, in the largest shopping center in Europe, Venice, merchant ships had to wait 40 days before entering the port. The same measure was used for people who came from infected areas. City councils hired special doctors - plague doctors who fought the disease, and then also went to isolation.
The true cause of black death was discovered only due to the discovery of the father of microbiology, Louis Pasteur in the XNUMXth century, who proved that infections are caused by microorganisms and not by miasma and impaired body balance, as people continued to think until that time. Pasteur developed treatments for anthrax, cholera and rabies, and founded an institute to combat dangerous infections. The creator of the first vaccines against plague and cholera at the beginning of the XNUMXth century was the Russian scientist Vladimir Khavkin. The final turning point in the fight against plague occurred by the middle of the XNUMXth century, when Soviet scientists began to use antibiotics in the fight against the disease.
Plague in Russia
The first message about the sea in Russia can be found in chronicles for 1092. A source reports that in the summer of 6600 (1092) “there was a miracle in Polotsk: they heard a clatter at night; with a groan, as if people, demons roamed the streets. If someone comes out of the choromina, wanting to see them, that demons invisibly hurt, and therefore he died. And people did not dare to leave the choir. ... People said that the souls of the deceased kill the townspeople. This disaster came from Drutsk. " The disease was an unprecedented phenomenon, the suddenness of the infection and the quick fatal outcome so impressed contemporaries that they searched for the cause in the miraculous phenomenon of “God's punishment”.
In the XII century, two more epidemics were noted in Russia. One disease struck Novgorod. "Pestilence is many," says the chronicler, "in Novgorod, in people and in horse, and it was impossible to go through the city, to enter the field, because of the stench of the dead," and the cattle were dying. " In the 1230s, an epidemic struck Smolensk, Pskov and Izborsk. Mortality was very high, thousands of people died, mass graves were digging under the churches. Outbreaks of pestilence were noted in 1265 and 1278. It can be noted that almost all infectious outbreaks were in Kiev, Smolensk, Polotsk, Pskov and Novgorod, which were then large shopping centers. Obviously, mass diseases that are in the XIII century. marked throughout Europe, brought to Russia by traffickers from the West. Diseases at that time were attributed to the “divine punishment” for the sins of people. Later, superstitions appeared that the pestilence was caused by witchcraft or evil people, for example, the Tatars poisoned the water. The situation was similar in Europe, where during the epidemics “witches”, “sorcerers” and “Jewish poisoners” were persecuted.
In the XIV century, several more epidemics were noted in Russia. The worst is the "black death", which struck all of Europe. She was distinguished by enormous proportions and the highest mortality. At first the plague appeared in Crimea, defeated the possessions of the Horde, then it appeared in Poland and in Russia. At the same time, pestilence came to Russian lands not from the Horde, but from Western Europe. In the summer of 1352, the "black death" came to Pskov. Mortality was terrible, the living did not have time to bury the dead. The city was seized with fear. In search of salvation, the townspeople sent ambassadors to Novgorod to Archbishop Vasily, asking him to come to Pskov to bless his inhabitants and pray with them about ending the illness. The archbishop fulfilled their request and went around Pskov with a procession. But on the way back he fell ill and soon died. As a result, the disease got to Novgorod - the Novgorodians themselves brought the body to the city and buried it in St. Sophia Cathedral. In Novgorod, an epidemic began, which spread from here to all major cities and all of Russia.
In the 1360s, a terrible disease appeared in the lower Volga, began to climb the river and swept the Volga-Oka interfluve. A large number of people died. In the 1370s, another wave of the epidemic swept across Russia and the Horde. In 1387, pestilence wiped out almost the entire population of Smolensk, then hit Pskov and Novgorod. In the XV century, several more epidemics swept through Russian soil. Sources mark the "plague of iron" - apparently the bubonic form of the plague, and the "plague of" orcotism ", obviously, it was a pulmonary form of the plague, with hemoptysis. The northwestern regions of Russia suffered the most. A similar situation was in the XVI century. At this time in Russia for the first time quarantine measures were noted. So, in 1521-1522. Pskov again suffered from a pestilence of unknown origin, which killed many citizens. The prince ordered to close the street on which the pestilence began, with outposts from both ends. Obviously, it helped, a terrible disease raged only in Pskov.
In 1552, a plague came from the Baltic states and struck Pskov, and then Novgorod. Novgorod when the news about the sea in Pskov appeared, they set up outposts on the roads connecting Novgorod and Pskov, forbade Pskov from entering the city. They also kicked out of the city the Pskov merchants who were already there, along with the goods. Those guest traders who tried to resist were taken out by force and burned their goods. The Novgorodians, who hid the Pskovites, were beaten with a whip. This is the first news in Russia about large-scale quarantine and interruption of communication between regions due to illness. However, these measures were apparently belated. A terrible disease has hit the area. Only Pskov killed 25 thousand people in a year, and about 280 thousand people died in Novgorod land. According to the Pskov annals, people were dying with "iron."
Since that time, quarantine measures have become common in Russia. In particular, Ivan the Terrible interrupted communications from Moscow and places that were exposed to infection. People who died from the infection were forbidden to be buried near churches, they were taken away from settlements. They set up posts on the streets and roads. The courtyards where a person died from the pestilence was blocked, sentinels were posted, who passed the food from the street. The priests were forbidden to visit the sick. The most severe measures were taken against quarantine violators. It happened that violators were burned together with the sick.
The great pestilence struck Russia at the beginning of the 1654th century. In Moscow alone, hundreds of thousands of people died (including refugees from rural areas where hunger raged). This epidemic has become one of the prerequisites of the Troubles. Another terrible disease struck Moscow and the country in 1656-150. People were dying in the thousands, whole streets. The royal family, the patriarch, all the nobility and officials simply fled from the capital. Even the streltsy garrison fled. As a result, the entire management system in Moscow collapsed. Mortality was terrifying. According to various estimates, half of the capital's population (XNUMX thousand people) died.
Page of the Radziwill Chronicle with a description of the plague epidemic that erupted in Polotsk in 1092. According to the chronicler, the disease was brought by demons who scoured the city night and day
Under Peter the Great, the fight against the plague finally became a function of state bodies: the Senate, the medical board and the quarantine service. True, the main method remained quarantine. Compulsory quarantine has been introduced in seaports. In places of an infectious outbreak, quarantine outposts were placed. All people traveling from the contaminated area were quarantined for up to 1,5 months. They tried to disinfect clothes, clothes and products with the help of smoke (wormwood, juniper), and washed metal objects in acetic solution.
Under Catherine II, quarantine posts operated not only on the border, but also on roads leading to cities. As necessary, these posts were strengthened by doctors and soldiers. As a result, pestilence became a rare guest in the Russian Empire. The foci of infection were usually able to be quickly blocked, preventing the country from dispersing and killing more people.
A major infectious outbreak occurred at the end of 1770 in Moscow. The epidemic reached its peak in 1771. Killed about 60 thousand people. The epidemic entered Russia from the Turkish front during the war with Porta. Obviously, the soldiers brought back from the war brought the plague, and goods brought from Turkey also became the sources of infection. In the Moscow General Hospital, people began to die. Senior physician Shafonsky established the cause and tried to take action. However, the Moscow authorities did not listen to him, they considered him an alarmist. Local authorities tried to hide the scale of the disease, assured the population that the disease was not dangerous. As a result, the disease has become widespread. Already infected people fled the city, spreading the disease around. First of all, the rich fled from Moscow. They went to other cities or to their estates. The mayor, Count Saltykov, escaped, followed by other officials.
The big city froze. There were practically no medicines for the poor. The townspeople burned bonfires and beat the bells (their ringing was considered healing). There was a shortage of food. Looting flourished. During the peak of the epidemic, up to a thousand people died every day, many remained in their homes or on the streets for a long time. The funeral service began to use prisoners. They collected corpses, took them out of town and burned them. Horror gripped the townspeople.
Johann Jacob Lerche, one of the doctors who fought the plague in the city, noted:
“It is impossible to describe the terrible state in which Moscow was. Every day on the streets you could see the sick and the dead, who were taken out. Many corpses lay on the streets: people either fell dead or were thrown from the houses. The police didn’t have enough people or vehicles to transport the sick and dead, so often the corpses lay in their homes for 3-4 days. ”
Soon, fear and complete despair gave way to aggression. There was also a reason for rebellion. There was a rumor in Moscow that the Barbarian Gate has a miraculous icon of the Mother of God of God, which will save people from infection. Crowds of people kissed the icon. Archbishop Ambrose ordered to hide the icon and aroused the wrath of superstitious people who were deprived of hope for salvation. September 15, 1771 the townspeople struck the alarm, armed themselves and called to save the icon from the "thief-archbishop." Rebels defeated the Miracles Monastery in the Kremlin. On September 16, even more people took to the streets. They raided the Don Monastery, discovered and killed the archbishop. Other crowds raided quarantine houses and hospitals. General Eropkin quickly suppressed the riot.
After these tragic events, the government took emergency measures. Empress Catherine the Second sent a guard to Moscow under the command of G. Orlov. A general commission was established, headed by the prosecutor general Vsevolozhsky, which identified the most active rebels. Count Orlov, using strict quarantine measures and improving the sanitary-epidemiological situation in Moscow, brought down a wave of the epidemic. In honor of the Empress’s favorite, a medal was inscribed with the inscriptions: “Russia has such sons in itself” and “For the deliverance of Moscow from an ulcer in 1771”.
The assassination of Archbishop Ambrose, engraving by Charles Michel Geoffrey, 1845