The Contract of a Plague Doctor


The following agreement was entered into by the parties of Master Giovanni de Ventura and the community of Pavia (Lombardy, Italy) on May 6, 1479.

Conditions agreed upon between the magnificent Community of Pavia and the doctor of medicine, Giovanni de Ventura in order to treat the patients suffering from the plague.

 CLAUSE 1  The community of Pavia and its council shall provide the sum of 30 florins per month to Master Giovani de Ventura.
CLAUSE 2  Payment of said funds shall be made two months in advance. (there is a note which amended this to one month in advance).
CLAUSE 3  This clause stipulated that the community must make adequate security pledges to guarantee payment of salary.
CLAUSE 4  The community of Pavia and its council shall provide Dr. Ventura with "an adequate house in an adequate location, completely furnished."
CLAUSE 5  The community of Pavia and its council shall continue to pay Master Giovanni Ventura for a period of two months after the termination of his employment.
CLAUSE 6  The said Master Giovanni shall not be bound or held under obligation except only in attending the plague patients. [It later was added that] Giovani must treat all patients and visit infected places as it shall be found to be necessary."
CLAUSE 7  The community of Pavia and its council shall grant citizenship to Giovanni Ventura [It later was added ] according to how he shall behave himself.
CLAUSE 8  In the event -- may God forbid it -- that the said Master Giovanni should die in the exercise of these duties, that the heirs shall not be required to make restitution of any part of his salary that might remain unearned.
CLAUSE 9  The said Master Giovanni shall not be able to ask a fee from anyone, unless the plague victim himself or his relatives shall freely offer it.
CLAUSE 10  Whenever and however it shall come about -- God forbid that it should -- that because of a plague of this kind the city may be brought so low that Master Giovanni cannot have his wage nor the things necessary to his existence, that then and in that case Master Giovanni may be released from his obligation without any penalty."
CLAUSE 11 The community of Pavia and its council is under obligation to maintain a barber who should be al least adequate and capable..."
 CLAUSE 12  The community of Pavia and its council has and is under the obligation to provide said Master Giovanni with all and everything which is necessary for his life, paying and exbursing the money therefore..."
CLAUSE 13 Should the community of Pavia and its council not observe the previously agreed conditions, either partially or totally, then and in that case it would be possible to said Master Giovanni to be totally free from any engagement notwithstanding the previous clauses or others to be made. [It later was added] the doctor shall notify the community at least ten days in advance so that the Community would be on the condition to provide (for a substitute).
CLAUSE 14  Said Master Giovanni would have and should be obliged to do his best and visit the plague patients twice or three times or more times per day, as it will be found necessary."
CLAUSE 15  In the case--may God forbid it-- that the said Master Giovanni would fall ill, and could not perform his office, that then and in such case he should receive a salary only for the time of his service.
CLAUSE 16  Master Giovanni should not be allowed to move around the city in order to treat patients unless accompanied by a man especially designated by the Community.