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Sep 2012

Terms for Syphilis Between the 16th and the 20th Centuries

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: National Research Council of Italy, Institute of Neurological Sciences, Mangone, Cosenza, Italy.

Arch Dermatol. 2012;148(9):1036. doi:10.1001/archdermatol.2012.1609

Since the beginning of 15th century, some physicians have believed that syphilis was caused by atmospheric calamities or the plight of the person1; therefore, syphilis was called malattia estiva or mala dispositio.2 In 1539, an anonymous book published in Lyon, France, “Le triumphe de treshaulte et puissante Dame Vérolle, royne du puy d’amours: nouvellement composé par l’inventeur de menus plaisirs honnestes,” depicted on the title page many miserable syphilitic men following a lean and exhausted horse carrying a woman dressed in rags (the “royne du puy d’amours”).3

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