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March 22, 2008 at 6:51 pm #1009PhidippidesKeymaster
This was somewhat noteworthy:
A Venetian doctor, Salamon, in 1649, anticipated biological warfare by concocting a plague-quintessence for use in the Turkish war. It was to be sown in the enemy's camps through the medium of cloth goods of the type the Turks liked to buy -- Albanian fez, for instance. "The proposition is a virtuous one," wrote the Venetian provveditore in Zara to the Inquisitors of State. "It is however... unusual and perhaps not admitted by public morality. But... in the case of the Turks, enemies by faith, treacherous by nature, who have always betrayed your excellencies, in my humble opinion the ordinary considerations have no weight." The Ten were interested in the proposition and, to make sure of a monopoly on the doctor and his jar of plague-quintessence, they put both of them in jail.
Mary Mc Carthy, Venice Observed [book on-line] (New York: Reynal, 1957, accessed 22 March 2008), 128; available from Questia, http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=100022812; Internet.It goes on to say that it probably was not put into use. Still, it was interesting not only because of the early use of biological warfare (though I have heard of a dead pig being catapluted over a castle wall to infect the inhabitants during a siege) but also because of the Venetian Republic's response - if something is really dangerous for our enemy, it's probably really dangerous for ourselves as well! I suppose it was one way of solving the problem of letting it get into the wrong hands...March 22, 2008 at 7:07 pm #10903skiguyModerator
I heard they did this with the bodies of victims of the Black Plague too.