Four Thieves Vinegar — known variously as vinaigre des quatre voleurs, acetum quator furum, Vinegar of the Four Thieves, Forthave’s Vinegar — is a prophylactic against bubonic plague, fabled to have been developed by thieves in France during one of several major historical plague outbreaks to protect from infection by the corpses they plundered.
OUR PLESANCE HEIR IS ALL VANE GLORY,
THIS FALS WARLD IS BOT TRANSITORY,
THE FLESCHE IS BRUKLE, THE FEND IS SLE;
TIMOR MORTIS CONTURBAT ME.
—William Dunbar, c.1505