Description: This 1636 part-printed document was issued by the “health providers” of Bergamo, Italy as a declaration that the city was “free from any suspicion of contagion”. Bills of health like this one were issued by cities to indicate that it was safe to trade and negotiate with the bearer without fear of infection. Travelers would often be denied entry to a city without similar official documentation attesting to their good health. Notably, William Edward Mead in The Grand Tour in the Eighteenth Century specifically mentions the Lombardy region of Italy as being a particularly strict area in which to travel: “that they will admit no stranger within the wals of their citie, except he bringeth a bill of health from the last citie he came from”. (Bergamo is one of the cities in the Lombardy region).
Outbreaks of plague occurred every few decades in 17th century Europe; an outbreak in 1636 killed about 10,000 people in England.
The document features a shield on the right which is presumably a representation of the Bergamo city flag, which is half yellow, half red. There is also a round seal on the left with a mounted knight surrounded by the words: “Prouis Sanitatis Bergomi”. The printed words and the inked writing are in Italian.
Approximately 7 ¼” x 10 7/8”. Item #DA00201.
Condition: Fold lines, some wear on edges and minor separation at fold lines, a few small stains, otherwise in good condition.