Page 130 - The Secrets Of Vinegar
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                          Les Secrets du Les du
             The Legend of the Four Thieves
In the year 1720, Marseillais officials were fighting a losing battle against the ravages of plague, which would decimate over a third of the population. According to legend, the city was being plundered by four ruthless thieves who seemed to be immune to the disease, allowing them to enter homes and rob plague victims without becoming infected. When the thieves were finally caught, the judge offered them a more lenient sentence in exchange for the secret that protected them from the deadly disease. Under torture, they finally admitted that they had concocted a special vinegar, which they would drink daily and rub on their bodies, hands, and faces. In exchange for this confession, the thieves were hanged instead of burned alive. Officials distributed the recipe to the townspeople, who from then on tied sponges to their mouths soaked in Four Thieves Vinegar to avoid catching plague.
Four Thieves Vinegar was added to the Codex in 1748 because of its dermatological and antiseptic disease-fighting properties and was sold in pharmacies as an external antiseptic until 1937. Another document declares that perfuming the body is important for plague prevention and daily care, and recommends rubbing vinegar onto the face and hands. The acidic, aromatic, and refreshing scent was believed to disinfect and purify the body and mask the odor of decomposition associated with plague.8
8 (French reference)

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