The story of the spice bandits has been told, embellished, and re-told so much that there are now many versions of the tale to be found. The real truth behind these lucky thieves and their magical oils may never be known.
In fourteen century Europe, the Black Plague was wreaking havoc across the continent. In only five years, the mysterious Black Death would kill more than 20 million people in Europe–almost one-third of the continent’s population.
Among the anguished and dying, four practiced thieves slipped in and out from the shadows of the cities, robbing the ill and stripping the dead of their finery and jewels. Despite coming into frequent contact with the disease, the thieves remained healthy and speculation about possible sorcery rippled through the frightened and perplexed people until the spice bandits were finally caught and put to trial for their crimes
In exchange for a pardon, the court demanded to know the secret of their continued good health. The guilty men conceded, revealing their history as spice traders in the exotic Middle East and Asia. There they learned the properties and uses of oils, spices, and herbs.
Using this knowledge, they concocted a protective oil to rub on themselves and protect them from even the most deadly of illnesses. The case was recorded, the men pardoned, and the people now armed with new wisdom.