The book concludes by stressing that epidemics do not necessarily lead to transcendental religiosity and weakening of states. Italy's most feared plague of the sixteenth century (1575–8) had the opposite effect. The mobilization of massive resources to combat it and the successful encouragement and coercion of clergy and health workers to remain at their posts fuelled the growth of the new Counter‐Reformation Church and secular states alike across Italy. This success led to the glorification of individual rulers and instructed on the need and value of subjects to obey, thereby boosting absolutist authority at the end of the sixteenth century and into the next. The epilogue explores these links in the history of medicine and culture across the Alps and into health policy beyond plague.
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