Louis the XIV and biological weapons

The end of the second to the last paragraph for the Louis the XIV entry in the Encyclopedia Britannica reads:

Who was the Italian and what was the weapon?

Certain it was either plague or rabbies. Both had been used around that time. No idea who the chemist was.

Martino Poli.

The wiki doesn’t mention the incident in the OP, though.

Rabbies can be weaponized?

Um, how? An aerosol? In water, food? Let lose the Racoons?

That’s sort of terrifying.

I was thinking it would be something more like cholera.

The wiki says,

Placing the saliva of rabid animals into hollow shells and firing at the enemy. Polish did this in 1650.

My bad. I read it twice to be sure and missed it both times.

Thanks guys, don’t know why I couldn’t find it.

I don’t see what good that would do. It would still only kill one guy at a time. Why not just use a regular shell? (unless they went around biting each other.)

It’s a terror weapon. Makes the enemy soldiers more afraid than usual, less likely to press the attack. Yes, bullets and cannon balls are just as deadly and probably more so, but the average soldier was likely more afraid of getting rabies than getting shot.

There is some reason to doubt it, from
this article:

Nobody said it was a great idea.

This is attributed to a guy named Kazimierz Siemienowicz. History does not record the result of his attempt, but the fact that nobody has repeated it since 1650 suggests it was not a great success. You are correct that it would almost certainly be better to use a regular shell, or some kind of incendiary such as quicklime (which had been known for some time). The fundamental problem is that biological warfare is hard and just doesn’t work very well, because there are very few diseases with the right combination of traits to make useful weapons.

No need for complications when a trebuchet and some rotting corpses will do the job.