In the early days Edinburgh, well pretty much everywhere wasn't the most hygienic of places, disease was rife, bad sanitary conditions made it even worse,people used to shout "Gardy Lou" when they were throwing their human waste out of the windows, yes sounds lovely lol but that was the way they lived.The words Gardy Lou came from the French meaning Gardez L'eau, which meant "watch out for the water" sounds like you had to watch out for a lot more lol. Mounds of human excrement were heaped in the streets all over the Edinburgh, imagine what the smell must have been like? An Englishman once said that Edinburgh was the most Healthful place to live in if it wasn't for the nasty and slothful people (charming) he commented on the fact he had to hold his nose everywhere he went as the smell was unbearable.In the early 1700's a Captain was a bit more graphic in his description , he was given a guide to get to his lodgings, the guide reminded him to "Hud yer Haunde" meaning hold your hand with a sash or something because the opening of a window in the streets meant one thing, yes it was gonna fly lol, even in his dwelling the Captain had to hold the sheet over his head as the neighbours throwing out their waste would waft everywhere, the smell was unbearable.The captain reported having had a good stay and the company was excellent however he commented on the fact that the living conditions were horrendous, wonder why lol!!
Can you imagine how many people died of diseases in the period of "Gardez Lous"? One visitor Edinburgh did not like was the pestilence, or Plague.
People were terrified, those who could leave, left and only the poorer people were left having no where else to go.If anyone was struck with the plague a family member had to display a white rag outside a window to alert people they had it, and can you imagine what response they got?
The streets of Edinburgh became deserted, only the men responsible for disinfecting the affected areas would be seen, dressed in black cloaks holding St Andrew crosses thinking this would protect them!
The punishment for anyone bringing the Plague into the Town was pretty harsh, A lady in the 16th Century travelled from another part of Scotland, when she entered the Town she was arrested for potentially risking the Town, branded on both cheeks, clothes burned and sent packing? wow a bit extreme .
Another lady was drowned, because she never declared she had the Plague and endangered the Town once more .
In 1645 Edinburgh received the last but the most potential form of the plague believed to have come from Newcastle, England,
The Plague not only affected life, it also affected everyday life, weddings and funerals were "banned"
Parliament sets up in Stirling (Scotland)
2241 people reported dead by the plague
over 10 million pounds lost.
This reminds me of Lepracy from the bible days, it must have been a horrendous time for the citizens and with the bad hygiene and no sewerage, how would you have liked to have lived in those days ?