During the 15th century Bubonic plague in Europe and Asia, four European thieves made it a habit to rob the deceased of anything of value. These bodies were highly contagious with the plague, which begins with severe flu symptoms and then continues with the bacteria infecting the blood system, usually ending in death (it is estimated 150 million people passed during this four year pandemic). However, these nasty villains never contracted the plague. It was reported that they wore hats and masks that smelled of vinegar and garlic and herbs and spices, namely cloves, lemons, cinnamon, eucalyptus, and rosemary.
A French version also involves the thieves. These hooligans were caught and jailed for robbing sick or vulnerable people, but never caught the deadly illness. They were to be burned alive for their crimes, but their judge told them he would spare them that if they would share how they avoided the plague. The thieves said that they were perfume and spice merchants who lost their livelihoods because of the thorough devastation of the disease. They combined cloves, lemon, cinnamon, eucalyptus, and rosemary and applied the blend to their hands, ears, feet, temples, and on a mask that they wore over their mouth.
Then they went out and about and committed their crimes, protected from the very infectious illness. Once the judge learned of their secret (and shared it among all he knew), he did spare them the punishment of being burned and he them hung instead.
The combination of these herbs and spices, especially when concentrated to an essential oil, contains properties that are antimicrobial, anti-fungal, antiseptic, and antiviral - and it smells great, too! The combined scent is a warm, comforting feeling.
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