Epidemics of bubonic plague in the 16th and 17th centuries, Muchembled writes, ushered in a fashion for the use of strong-smelling ambergris, musk, and civet, as “vital bulwarks against the Devil’s breath.” Smell was incredibly important to French people trying to stay uninfected; the body was seen as porous and could be “permeated” by air with plague in it. Doctors advised that they should wear white, burn sweet-smelling fires, and live life in moderation, to keep humors balanced.
— Slate reviews Smells: A Cultural History of Odours in Early Modern Times, by Robert Muchembled. Read more in The Book of Smells.
This looks like a super interesting read
Agree, I am going to see if it makes it to my library.
Another classic work along similar lines, The Miasma and the Jonquil (originally published in French).
I do miss Marcello, he always reviewed books like that.