Zašto se crnoj smrti trebalo više vremena pojaviti u istočnoj Evropi nego u zapadnoj Evropi

Zašto se crnoj smrti trebalo više vremena pojaviti u istočnoj Evropi nego u zapadnoj Evropi


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Razlog je bila gustoća naseljenosti i održavanje odgovarajuće higijene.

Istočna Evropa bila je uglavnom rijetko naseljena, dok su najveći gradovi bili u najgorem položaju, jer su gustoća naseljenosti i bliski životni prostori olakšali prijenos bolesti. Gradovi su također bili izrazito prljavi, zaraženi ušima, buhama i štakorima, te podložni bolestima vezanim za neuhranjenost i lošu higijenu.

Prema novinaru Johnu Kellyju, "užasno neadekvatne sanitarne prostorije učinile su srednjovjekovnu urbanu Evropu tako zahvaćenom bolestima, nijedan grad bilo koje veličine ne bi mogao održati stanovništvo bez stalnog priliva imigranata sa sela". Priliv novih građana olakšao je kretanje kuge između zajednica i doprinio dugovječnosti kuge u većim zajednicama.

Nekoliko ruralnih područja, poput Istočne Poljske i Litve, imalo je tako nisku populaciju i bilo je toliko izolirano da je kuga malo napredovala. Dijelovi Mađarske i, u modernoj Belgiji, regija Brabant, Hainaut i Limbourg, kao i Santiago de Compostela, nisu bili pogođeni iz nepoznatih razloga, neki su povjesničari pretpostavili da im je prisutnost rezistentnih krvnih grupa u lokalnom stanovništvu pomogla da se odupru bolesti .


Crna smrt dovela je do propasti feudalizma. Može li ova pandemija imati sličan učinak?

Autor: Adam McBride
Objavljeno 26. aprila 2020. u 14:00 (EDT)

Sestra podiže šaku u znak protesta | Ilustracija doktora kuge (Getty Images/AP fotografija/salon)

Dionice

U predviđanju budućnosti često se okrećemo prošlim iskustvima. Čovječanstvo se, na kraju krajeva, suočavalo s pandemijama poput ove ranije - zapravo mnogo puta - i rijetki su oni koji se pamte i prijete poput Crne smrti. Dolaskom u Italiju 1347. godine poslije Krista, Crna smrt, za koju se sada vjeruje da je bubonska kuga, brzo se proširila po srednjovjekovnoj Evropi, istrebivši između jedne trećine i polovine cjelokupnog evropskog stanovništva.

Ljudi srednjovjekovne Evrope nisu bili nenaviknuti na patnju, ali to je bilo bez presedana. Smrt bi nastupila u roku od nekoliko dana ili čak sati nakon pokazivanja simptoma, a za one koji su se razboljeli, smrtnost je vjerojatno bila veća od 60%. Panika se proširila još brže, a najsvetije veze društva počele su se raspadati. Srednjovekovni hroničari govore nam o sveštenicima koji su napustili svoje stado, roditelji koji su napustili svoju decu, muževima svojim ženama i obrnuto - sve kako bi izbegli zarazu. U nekim su područjima židovske zajednice okrivljavane i zlobno napadane, dok je u drugima gomila pokajničkih kršćana javno šibala oponašajući Krista. Za mnoge je to bio smak svijeta.

Ono što često nedostaje ovoj priči je širi kontekst i trajni utjecaj Crne smrti. Ovo je priča ne samo o nesagledivoj tragediji, već i o transformaciji i ponovnom rođenju. Kuga je, u kombinaciji s nizom drugih povezanih i preklapajućih kriza, zadala smrtni udarac srednjovjekovnoj Europi, uvodeći novo doba-renesansu i uspon takozvanog agrarnog kapitalizma-i na kraju postavila pozornicu za industrijsku revoluciju i savremeni svet. Strašni 14. vijek nije toliko udaljen od našeg vlastitog iskustva koliko bismo željeli misliti.

Evropa se krajem 13. stoljeća nije toliko razlikovala od Evrope danas. Od Drugog svjetskog rata, doživjeli smo neviđen period ekonomskog rasta, a tako je bilo i za srednjovjekovnu Evropu uoči Crne smrti. Od 1000. godine naše ere evropsko se stanovništvo udvostručilo ili čak utrostručilo, a ekonomija se sve više komercijalizirala, potpisivana sve sofisticiranijim financijskim sustavom, kako su se pojavljivali novi gradovi i mjesta, osnivali su se univerziteti diljem kontinenta, a veličanstvene gotičke katedrale nadmašivale su Veliku piramidu u Giza je najviša građevina na svijetu koju je stvorio čovjek.

No, poput modernog svijeta, na fasadi je bilo pukotina - znakova upozorenja da društveni i ekonomski temelji srednjovjekovne Evrope nisu bili tako čvrsti kako se činilo. Kako je broj stanovnika rastao, sve marginalnije zemljište se predavalo poljoprivredi, sa sve manjim prinosima, što je rezultiralo nižim prinosima po stanovniku i gurnulo stanovništvo opasno blizu nivoa egzistencije. Ovo je ostavilo malo zastoja u ekonomiji da apsorbuje značajan šok, a 14. vijek će uskoro donijeti jedan šok za drugim.

Prije svega, klima se mijenjala. Zvuči poznato? Srednjovjekovna Evropa imala je koristi od nekoliko vjekova toplijeg vremena, što je povećalo prinose usjeva, ali do 14. stoljeća svijet je ulazio u takozvano Malo ledeno doba. Promjene su bile relativno male u usporedbi s našom klimatskom krizom, ali je utjecaj bio značajan. Hladnije i vlažnije vrijeme smanjilo je prinose poljoprivrede, u vrijeme kada je već bilo vrlo malo zastoja u opskrbi hranom. To je doprinijelo širem ekonomskom usporavanju, jer su prinosi padali i cijene rasle, ali je i dovelo Evropu na ivicu gladi.

Zatim, počevši od 1311. godine, Evropa je počela doživljavati niz neuspjeha usjeva širom kontinenta u onome što je postalo poznato kao Velika glad. Velika glad dostigla je vrhunac u sjevernoj Europi 1315.-1317., A možda je ubila 5 do 10% europskog stanovništva, manje od jedne generacije prije nego što je Crna smrt stigla 1347.

U isto vrijeme, Europa je ušla u produženi period pojačanog geopolitičkog sukoba, tijekom kojeg je vrtoglavi niz kraljevstava, kneževina, sultanata i gradova-država vodio bezbrojne ratove, velike i male. Glavni među njima, u smislu društvenog i ekonomskog utjecaja, bila su tekuća neprijateljstva između Engleske i Francuske koja su kulminirala Stogodišnjim ratom (1337-1453) i padom Akre 1291. godine, posljednjeg preostalog grada krstaša na Levantu , što je dovelo do papske zabrane trgovine sa mamelučkim sultanatom. Ovi sukobi spriječili su trgovinu između sjeverne i južne Evrope te između zapadne Evrope i istočnog Mediterana, dodatno usporavajući evropsku ekonomiju i donoseći veliko fiskalno opterećenje koje bi uskoro uništilo evropski finansijski sistem i izazvalo pobune u Francuskoj i Engleskoj.

Sjeverna Italija je u to vrijeme bila srce finansijskog sistema, a mali broj vrlo velikih italijanskih banaka, koje se često naziva i "super-kompanijama", pozajmljivale su ogromne svote novca širom Evrope. Kao što je to bio slučaj u finansijskoj krizi 2008. godine, nekoliko banaka je zapravo evidentiralo gotovinu u svojim knjigama. Sav raspoloživi novac pozajmljen je ili vezan za investicije, ostavljajući banke ozbiljno podkapitalizirane i podložne insolventnosti u slučaju naglog velikog povlačenja ili velikog neplaćanja kredita.

Obje ove mogućnosti uskoro su se ostvarile, izazivajući kaskadne neuspjehe u cijelom finansijskom sistemu. Prvo je izbio rat između Engleske i Francuske 1294. godine, zbog čega je kralj Edward I povukao ogromne svote novca iz Riccardija iz Lucce, približno ekvivalentno nekoliko milijardi dolara danas. Riccardi jednostavno nije imao novca, a Edward je zaplijenio svu imovinu koju je mogao. Zatim su, u narednim decenijama, još tri super banke, Frescobaldi, Bardi i Peruzzi, cijela Firenca, uništene uzastopnim engleskim kraljevima koji su odbijali platiti svoje dugove. Najupečatljivije je da je Edward III dospio u zajmove u iznosu od milijarde dolara vrijednih kredita od Bardija i Peruzzija, što je pokrenulo pokretanje firentinskih banaka 1340-ih, pokrenuvši međunarodnu dužničku krizu i efektivno okončavši javno zaduživanje za englesku krunu. Ovo je bilo manje od deset godina prije početka Crne smrti.

U međuvremenu, Katolička crkva, kulturna i epistemološka osnova srednjevjekovne Evrope, suočila se s najznačajnijom krizom legitimiteta u stoljećima. Ambiciozni francuski kralj Filip IV, koji je također imao središnju ulogu u kreditnoj krizi 1294. godine, bio je upleten u veliki ulog sa papom Bonifacijem VIII kada su kraljevi ljudi pokušali uhititi starijeg Papu, nenamjerno ubivši njega. Ubrzo nakon toga, 1305. godine, Francuz, Klement V, izabran je za sljedećeg papu, a papstvo je preseljeno u Avignon, Francuska. Ovo je razumljivo bacilo dugu sjenu na Svetu Stolicu, a pape iz Avinjona nisu bile voljene i s nepovjerenjem. Kriza se samo produbila 1378. godine kada je drugi papa izabran u Rimu, a treći je nakratko izabran 1409. prije nego što su sva trojica svrgnuta 1417. godine.

Mogli bismo ovu krizu vjere uporediti s trenutnom krizom legitimiteta nauke u Sjedinjenim Državama. Kao i naučna metoda, Crkva je bila zajednički način saznanja - put do zajedničkog razumijevanja, koji je bio bitan za društveni poredak srednjovjekovne Evrope.

Usred ove duhovne, ekonomske i geopolitičke krize stigla je Crna smrt koja je preplavila Evropu 1347.-1353. Godine i pokvarila ravnotežu moći, gotovo preko noći. Psihološke učinke teško je sa sigurnošću identificirati, upravo zato što su tolike druge nepogode već pucale po srednjovjekovnoj podsvijesti, ali ekonomski učinci kuge nisu bili ništa drugo nego potresni. Ubijajući možda 50% radne snage, Crna smrt je drastično promijenila ponudu radne snage, zemlje i novca. Plate su strmoglavo skočile, s nedostatkom radne snage, a rente su opale, jer je sve veća gustina stanovništva stvorila višak zemlje. Oba ova razvoja značajno su koristila običnim ljudima, na račun elite, posebno u Engleskoj.

Da biste razumjeli zašto, važno je razumjeti strukturu srednjovjekovne ekonomije. Prošla društva nikada nisu tako jednostavna ili homogena kako ih mi zamišljamo. No, uglavnom je srednjovjekovna Europa djelovala na feudalnom ili vlastelinskom sistemu, u kojem je većina seoskog stanovništva bila u osnovi servilna, dugujući stanarinu i/ili usluge aristokratskim zemljoposjednicima u zamjenu za korištenje svoje zemlje. Seljaci su mogli imati bezbroj različitih statusa, ali općenito, arhetipski kmet bio je zakonski vezan za svog gospodara - iako su mogli kupiti njihovu slobodu (ili pobjeći). Kmetovi su obrađivali gospodska polja (zvana demesne), a u zamjenu za njih kmet je dobio dom i vlastitu parcelu poljoprivrednog zemljišta, od koje su mogli zarađivati ​​za život.

Arhetipski kmet nije bio plaćen za svoj rad na gospodskim poljima - to je bila njihova obaveza prema gospodaru u zamjenu za korištenje gospodske zemlje. Savremeni ekvivalent bio bi da je vaš stanodavac vaš šef, a da biste živjeli u svom stanu, morali ste zauvijek odjaviti svoju slobodu i slobodu svoje djece. Ne samo to, srednjovjekovni gospodar bio je i primarna jedinica pravne, građanske i vojne moći, često služeći kao prva stanica za pravna pitanja i prva odbrana od razbojnika i rivalskih kraljevstava.

Međutim, nakon Crne smrti, nedostatak radne snage i obilje zemlje osnažili su seljake da pregovaraju o boljim uslovima sa svojim gospodarom, a gospodar, bez ičijeg posla na njivi, nije mogao to odbiti. To je posebno bio slučaj u Engleskoj, gdje je aristokracija više ovisila o uzgoju domena. S možda polovinom stanovništva, jednostavno nije bilo dovoljno seljaka za obradu zemlje, a prosječni prihod engleskog lorda značajno se smanjio. Kao odgovor, gospodska žitna polja sve su se više predavala stoci ili su se davala u zakup poljoprivrednicima zakupcima, koji su gospodaru plaćali fiksnu zakupninu, zadržavajući poljoprivredne proizvode za sebe.

Ambiciozni pučanin sada je mogao steći znatne površine zemlje, a s poljoprivrednim proizvodom tog zemljišta koji im je bio potpuno na raspolaganju, pučani su bili potaknuti da povećaju produktivnost svoje zemlje i prodaju višak na tržištu za profit. Ova tranzicija se često naziva rođenjem agrarnog kapitalizma.

Gradski radnici i zanatlije takođe su imali koristi od povećanja plata. Prosječan životni vijek se povećao, a životni standard se poboljšao. Nedostatak kvalificiranih zanatlija čak je stvorio nove mogućnosti za urbane žene: udovice trgovaca i obrtnika bile su potaknute da vode poslove svojih muževa, a broj pripravnica u Londonu se u to vrijeme značajno povećao.

Aristokratija je, međutim, bila predvidljivo zgrožena novootkrivenom moći zajedničke gužve, a elita je nastojala zadržati svoju poziciju namećući umjetno niske plaće i prisiljavajući radnike da prihvate bilo koji raspoloživi posao. Sumputni zakoni, koji su ograničavali šta običan narod može nositi i jesti, takođe su postali uobičajeni tokom 14. i 15. vijeka. Međutim, čini se da ti zakoni nisu bili učinkoviti, a tenzije su nastavile rasti između aristokracije i šireg stanovništva, koje je bilo sve nestrpljivije za promjene.

To je, u kombinaciji s ogromnim fiskalnim teretom gotovo konstantnog rata, pokrenulo niz ustanka, ponajviše Francusku žakeriju 1358. i englesku seljačku pobunu 1381. Aristokracija je odgovorila silom gdje god je to bilo moguće, ali nisu mogli vrati sat unazad.

Čak se i u ratu njihova uloga mijenjala. Dok je srednjovjekovni gospodar iznajmljivao svoja polja, vitez je sve više gubio mjesto na bojnom polju. To je, teoretski, bila primarna svrha sekularne aristokracije: biti profesionalne ubice, braniti carstvo i štititi svećenstvo i seljaštvo. No, počevši od 14. stoljeća, pješadijske jedinice sastavljene od običnih ljudi, poput švicarskih pikemena i engleskih strijelaca, počele su oduzimati niz odlučnih pobjeda protiv vitezova konjanika, revolucionirajući vojnu taktiku i ubrzavajući zastarjelost feudalne aristokracije.

Sve vrijeme, novi intelektualni duh ukorijenio se u zapadnoj Evropi. Utjecajni mislioci poput Johna Wycliffea i Marsilija iz Padove počeli su dovoditi u pitanje svjetski autoritet i Crkve i države, tvrdeći da moć na kraju počiva na puku, a ne na vladaru, te da nedostojni vladar može izgubiti svoje pravo na upravljanje. Pisace i filozofe sve više je zanimalo ovdje i sada, pojedinačno i uočljivo, a ne apstraktno i univerzalno. Radovi Chaucera, Petrarke i Christine de Pizan slave jedinstvenost pojedinca, uživajući u trenutku i često skrećući pažnju na neurednost ljudskog iskustva. William of Ockham izravno je osporio dosadnu apstrakciju srednjovjekovne filozofije, zalažući se za učinkovitije i rigoroznije zaključivanje à la Ockhamove britve.

Novo povjerenje u naučnu misao počelo je cvjetati, dok su preuranjeni učenjaci poput Nicole Oresme i Jean Buridan postulirali rotaciju zemlje i zakon inercije, više od stoljeća prije Kopernika i Isaka Newtona. Nakon crne smrti, liječnici od kuge bili su među prvima koji su vjerovali da su nadmašili znanje o grčkom i rimskom svijetu, ironično su pogriješili, ali niža smrtnost kasnijih izbijanja navela je mnoge liječnike da proglase da su izliječili bolest , što je usadilo novu vjeru u naučni napredak. Ovo je bio početak promjene paradigme, čije su se posljedice oblikovale u našem modernom svijetu, a katastrofalni 14. vijek bio je lonac kroz koji je nastala ova nova paradigma.

Sada, sedamsto godina kasnije, šta, ako išta, možemo naučiti iz ovoga-šta nam krize i posljedice 14. stoljeća mogu reći o našoj vlastitoj pandemiji i predstojećim posljedicama? S jedne strane, trenutna pandemija blijedi u usporedbi s Crnom smrću. Crna smrt je ubila najmanje 30% srednjovjekovne Evrope, dok je malo vjerojatno da će novi koronavirus ubiti više od 0,03% američkog stanovništva. Nakon koronavirusa neće doći do nedostatka radne snage, već naprotiv, vjerovatno će doći do viška radne snage, uslijed ekonomskog pada koji je uslijedio. Što se tiče stanarina, tržište stanova je u osnovi zamrznuto jer se ljudi sklanjaju, a cijene stanova će vjerojatno pasti u recesiji, ali stvarni troškovi stanovanja u odnosu na prihod vjerojatno neće vidjeti vrstu seizmičke promjene koja se dogodila nakon Crne smrti .

Međutim, ako pogledamo šire, kriza kasnog srednjeg vijeka ima više od nedostatka radne snage i viška zemlje. Razaranje Crne smrti možda je bila slamka koja je demi slomila leđa, ali srednjovjekovna Evropa već je bila na putu društvenih i ekonomskih preokreta. Kao što je to slučaj danas, spremao se sukob velikih sila, a s velikim dijelovima Francuske koji su već bili pod engleskom kontrolom, konačni obračun između Engleske i Francuske vjerovatno je bio neizbježan. Nejednakost je također bila izvor stagnacije i napetosti znatno prije Crne smrti, jer se europska ekonomija sve više komercijalizirala, pojavila se nova urbana srednja klasa, a uloga aristokracije u ratu, u ekonomskoj proizvodnji i u građanskom životu bila je pomicanje. No, najvažnije i najznačajnije za naše doba, Europu je vodila klimatska katastrofa, i bez obzira na Crnu smrt, kontinent bi se gotovo sigurno suočio s nizom demografskih šokova, poput Velike kuge, sve dok nisu napravljene značajne promjene postojećem društveno-ekonomskom sistemu.

Pouka koju bismo iz ovoga trebali izvući danas nisu razlike između koronavirusa i Crne smrti, već šire sličnosti između 14. i 21. stoljeća. Kako izlazimo iz naših improviziranih bunkera-zahvalni i možda previše uvjereni u izbjegavanje najgoreg mogućeg scenarija-rat između Kine i SAD-a i dalje je sve veći, društveno-ekonomska nejednakost dostiže rekordne nivoe, povjerenje u institucije i našu etabliranu epistemologiju opada , i kako ulazimo u najgoru depresiju od 1930 -ih, klimatske promjene ponovo prijete da nas vrate u srednji vijek. Koronavirus je otkrio duboke pukotine u našem društvu, ali nije bio dovoljno ozbiljan da nas prisili na rješavanje ovih problema. Možemo se osjećati kao da smo izbjegli metak, ali ako nastavimo sa uobičajenim poslovima, ono što će se sljedeće dogoditi vjerojatno će biti mnogo gore. Strašni 21. vijek tek počinje, a prikladnija paralela za Crnu smrt vjerovatno tek dolazi.

Adam McBride

Adam McBride je srednjovjekovni arheolog (PhD Oxford), službenik kampanje i politički savjetnik.


Srednjovjekovno borbeno društvo

Vjeruje se da je Crna smrt nastao je u centralnoj Kini 1333. godine dok je stanovništvo podleglo gladovanju. Kuga se proširila na Krim gdje su Kipčački Mongoli ili Tatari napali Genose noseći krzno i ​​svilu iz Cathaya, opsjedali đenovljanski trgovački centar Calla i katapultirali vlastite mrtve u grad. Đenovljanski trgovci pobjegli su morem noseći kugu u Messinu u Italiji. 1348. kuga se proširila s Kipra u Firencu koja je također patila od gladi. Kuga se proširila u Đenovu s Levanta na 3 galije koje su otišle do Marseillea, a zatim na englesku južnu obalu u blizini Southamptona, 1348. Crna smrt poharala je Bristol ubivši većinu njegovih stanovnika. Stigao je do Londona oko 1. novembra 1348. i do 2. februara 1349. svaki dan je bilo sahranjeno 200 ljudi. Kći kralja Edwarda III, Joanna umrla je od kuge u Bordeauxu na putu da se uda za Don Pedra, prijestolonasljednika Kastilje. Škoti koji nisu bili pogođeni crnom smrću iskoristili su napad u ovom trenutku na Englesku, ali to je jednostavno zato što kuga nije putovala tako daleko na sjever, pa su je ubrzo i pogodili.

Godine 1349. Edward III je napisao pismo gradonačelniku Londona tražeći da se ulice očiste kao stare, gdje se žalio da su ulice i uličice Londona 'prljave ljudskim izmetom, a zrak grada otrovan do velikih opasnost od prolaska muškaraca, posebno u ovo doba zarazne bolesti '. Dana 18. juna 1349. donesen je Pravilnik o radnicima u pokušaju da se plate zadrže na istom nivou kao prije kuge. 1352. Parlament je naveo kršenja plata na x2 i x3 nivoima prije kuge. Naređeno je da se u svakom gradu postave zalihe za prekršitelje. Crna smrt ponovo je izbila u proljeće 1361. godine, ali je zabilježena niska učestalost pneumonijskog oblika pa je stopa smrtnosti bila niža, reklo se da pogađa mlade, posebno muškarce. Britansko stanovništvo je procijenjeno na 3,5-5 miliona prije 1348. i 2 miliona 1377. Kuga se ponovo vratila u Englesku 1391.

Kuga je došla u dva oblika:

Plućna kuga davali su groznicu i pljuvali krv, a tijelo je postalo obilježeno malim crnim pustulama, pa je naziv The Black Death, to je bilo zaraznije i gotovo uvijek smrtonosno, vozili su se u krevetu 2 do 3 dana i umrli 3. ili 4. dan .

Kuga prenosile su ga buhe, a simptomi su bili groznica i karbunkuli te povećane limfne žlijezde ili buboni, pa je naziv bubonska kuga i stopa oporavka za to bila veća.

Žrtve kuge su u početku patile od glavobolje, a zatim jeze i groznice s povremenim povraćanjem i mučninom, bolovima u nogama i rukama i leđima. Teški bolni oteklini pojavili su se nakon dan ili dva na vratu, ispod ruku i na unutrašnjoj strani bedara, a kako su rasli počeli su curiti gnoj i krv. Nakon pojavljivanja bubica, žrtva bi tada počela iznutra krvariti s krvlju u urinu i stolici. Crne čireve i mrlje pojavljivale bi se po tijelu dok se krv skupljala ispod kože. Žrtve bi imale velike bolove, a smrt bi nastupila otprilike nedelju dana nakon zaraze kugom. Skeptikemijska kuga bi se dogodilo kada bi bolest ušla u krvotok žrtava, smrt bi brzo uslijedila, moguće prije nego što su se razvili drugi simptomi. Kada je kuga napala probavni sistem žrtava to se zvalo Enterička kuga, a to bi također moglo ubiti prije nego što se razviju drugi simptomi.

Srednjovekovna verovanja

Kuga je pogodila sve sfere života od bogatih do siromašnih i ljudi su mislili da je kuga Božja kazna. 1349. Flagellants su se pojavili u Engleskoj, 600 ih je stiglo iz Flandrije, nisu nosili cipele, bili su goli od pojasa naviše i imali su kapu s crvenim križem na prednjoj i stražnjoj strani i nosili su bič s 3 repa, od kojih svaki nije imao , kojim su neki srednji ekser fiksirali. Dok su marširali, bičevali su se i vadili krv, četiri su pjevala zajedno, a još četiri su pjevale kao odgovor. Zatim bi se prostirali na tlu u obliku križa sa zadnjim koji je prelazio preko onih ispred njih bičevajući ih, sve dok on ne bi legao pri čemu bi stražnji ustao i došao na red, dok svi nisu bičevali ostale.

Kuga u Evropi

1348. kuga je stigla u Europu. U Saint-Mauriceu je izbila epidemija koja je trajala 9 sedmica od aprila do juna 1349. godine sa 149 smrtnih slučajeva u selu, (40 % stanovništva), u okolnom selu, mortalitet je bio između 25 i 30 %. Pariz je imao 800 smrti dnevno na svom vrhuncu, a do 1349. godine umrlo je oko 50.000 od 100.000 stanovnika. U Vouvryju je umrlo 29 od 67. U Bernu su sahranjivali 60 tijela dnevno. Bremen, Hamburg i Venecija izgubili su najmanje 60% stanovništva, Beč je gubio 500 ljudi dnevno na svom vrhuncu. Kad je stopa smrtnosti dosegla oko 70 %, preživjeli su vjerovatno bili imuni. Stanovništvo Švicarske se smanjilo sa oko 800.000 u 1300. na 600.000 u 1400. B & eacuteziers 1304 stanovnika 14.000, 100 godina kasnije 4.000. U Francuskoj 1350. cijena pšenice porasla je četiri puta. U St Omeru kod Amiensa, godinu dana nakon što je kuga prošla, tekstilni radnici su imali 3 povećanja plata. U Italiji je Piza trpela 500 smrtnih slučajeva dnevno na svom vrhuncu. 1374 U Milanu su žrtve kuge izvedene iz grada gdje su ostavljene da umru ili ozdrave, a kaže se da je nadbiskup Visconti naredio da se kuće sa žrtvama kuge zazidaju bez obzira na to jesu li mrtve ili žive, pa se čini da Milan izgleda da je imao manje smrtnih slučajeva. Svi koji su njegovali žrtvu kuge morali su biti stavljeni u karantenu na 10 dana. 1382. Crna smrt se vratila u Evropu u slabijoj epidemiji, iako je u Irskoj uzela posebno veliki danak. Procjenjuje se da je do kraja stoljeća umrlo 75 miliona ljudi.

Društvene promjene uzrokovane kugom

U Engleskoj je oko 1300 stanovnika imalo oko 5 miliona, 1400 je bilo oko 2,5 miliona, tek 1630. ponovo je dostiglo 5 miliona stanovnika. Glad je uzrokovala smanjenje broja stanovnika prije kuge za 5-10% u odnosu na 1315-25. (Vodič putnika kroz vrijeme kroz srednjovjekovnu Englesku, 2008, Ian Mortimer) a rezultirajući ukupni pad bio je rezultat ovih različitih utjecaja, od kojih je najveći bio Crna smrt. Kuga je izazvala velike društvene promjene u cijeloj Evropi, bilo je manje ljudi koji su obrađivali zemlju, a oni koji su preživjeli imali su više bogatstva među njima. U opatiji Ramsay u Engleskoj, 30 godina nakon kuge, proizvodnja žitarica se prepolovila. Takav pad proizvodnje doveo je do rasta cijena žitarica, a seljaci su imali veću potražnju za njihovom radnom snagom i mogli su postići veće plaće, uprkos zakonima koji ih zaustavljaju. Crna smrt je ubila mnoge svećenike, a djeca u gimnazijama koja su ranije učila francuski, umjesto toga su učila engleski jezik zbog nedostatka francuskih sveštenika. Nakon početne epidemije u Evropi je došlo do porasta braka i nataliteta.

Plague Timeline

1333 Crna smrt potječe iz centralne Kine

1348 kuga se proširila s Kipra u Firencu

1348 Kuga stiže u Englesku na južnoj obali blizu Southamptona

1348. 2. rujna Joanna, kći kralja Edwarda III. Umrla je od kuge u Bordeauxu na putu da se uda za Don Pedra, prijestolonasljednika Kastilje

1348. kuga 1. novembra stigla je do Londona

1348. 29. novembra - Imenovan je novi vikar u Shaftesburyju u Engleskoj, koji će zamijeniti umrlog od kuge

1348. 10. decembra - Treći vikar imenovan u Shaftsburyju u Engleskoj da zamijeni one koji su umrli od kuge

1349 Edward III naređuje čišćenje ulica

1349. 2. februara, 200 ljudi je bilo sahranjeno svaki dan.

1349. 12. maja Četvrti novi vikar crkve u Shaftsburyju u Engleskoj imenovan je kada prethodnici umru od kuge.

1349. 18. juna donesen je Uredba o radnicima u pokušaju da se plate zadrže na istim nivoima kao prije kuge.

1352 Parlament je naveo kršenja plata na x2 i x3 nivoima prije kuge. Naređeno je da se u svakom gradu postave zalihe za prekršitelje.

1361 Proljeće Crna smrt ponovo izbija

1377 Britansko stanovništvo procjenjuje se na 2.000.000

1379 Anketa je pokazala da 4 sela u Gloucestershireu nemaju povrat

1388 4. izbijanje kuge. Ranije ponovljene pojave pogađale su uglavnom djecu, ali ovaj put uglavnom odrasle osobe.

Iako je crna smrt iz 14. stoljeća uzrokovala veliku smrt koja je rezultirala društvenim promjenama, to nije bila prva ili posljednja pošast. 541. godine u Egiptu je zabilježena kuga koja se ubrzo 542. godine poslije Krista proširila na Istočno Rimsko Carstvo, koje se potom proširilo na Perziju i južnu Europu oko Sredozemlja, a povremeno bi se rasplamsalo do 8. stoljeća. Povjesničar Proccopius opisao je kugu kako potječe iz Egipta, a drugi zapis Evagrije je dao izvor iz regije Etiopije i Sudana. Kuga se dogodila za vrijeme vladavine cara Justinijana i tako je postala poznata kao Justinijanska kuga, a Prokopije je zabilježio da je car obolio od kuge, ali se oporavio.

Kuga je imala bubonske, plućne i septikemijske oblike, ali se razlikovala po tome što su mnoge žrtve kuge imale halucinacije prije i nakon pojave drugih simptoma, a Prokopije opisuje žrtve koje su ušle u duboku komu ili nasilni delerium.

Broj smrtnih slučajeva nije zabilježen od ove pošasti, a smrt je uzrokovana indirektno zbog stagnacije nakon smrti mnogih poljoprivrednika, ali se smatra da je stopa smrtnosti bila velika sa zabilježenim Procopisom u prva četiri mjeseca izbijanja U Konstantinopolju, glavnom gradu Vizantije, dnevno je umrlo čak 10.000 ljudi. Ivan Efeski je izjavio da su u Konstantinopolju iskopane jame za kugu da drže po 70.000 tijela, ali da nisu bila dovoljna da tijela ostanu po cijelom gradu da istrunu.

Pad stanovništva, za koji se u Carigradu procjenjuje da iznosi između jedne trećine i polovine stanovništva, doveo je do nedostatka radne snage, a za preživjelima je bila veća potražnja pa su troškovi rada, a zatim i inflacija porasli, a sa manje ljudi niži su porezni prihodi.


Zloglasne pošasti

Tri posebno poznate pandemije dogodile su se prije otkrivanja uzroka kuge. Prva dobro dokumentirana kriza bila je Justinijanova kuga, koja je započela 542. godine poslije Krista, nazvana po vizantijskom caru Justinijanu I, pandemija je ubijala do 10.000 ljudi dnevno u Konstantinopolju (današnji Istanbul, Turska), prema starim historičarima. Savremene procjene pokazuju da je polovina evropskog stanovništva - skoro 100 miliona ljudi umrlo - izbrisana prije nego što je kuga nestala u 700 -im godinama.

Vjerojatno najzloglasnija epidemija kuge bila je takozvana Crna smrt, viševjekovna pandemija koja je zahvatila Aziju i Evropu. Vjerovalo se da je započeo u Kini 1334. godine, širio se duž trgovačkih puteva i stigao u Evropu preko sicilijanskih luka krajem 1340 -ih. Procjenjuje se da je kuga ubila oko 25 miliona ljudi, gotovo trećinu stanovništva kontinenta. Crna smrt trajala je stoljećima, posebno u gradovima. Epidemije su uključivale Veliku londonsku kugu (1665-66), u kojoj je umrlo 70.000 stanovnika.

Uzrok kuge nije otkriven sve do posljednje globalne epidemije, koja je započela u Kini 1860. godine i službeno se završila tek 1959. Pandemija je uzrokovala otprilike 10 milijuna smrtnih slučajeva. Kuga je u Sjevernu Ameriku početkom 1900 -ih donesena brodovima, a nakon toga se proširila na male sisavce po cijeloj Sjedinjenim Državama.

Visoka stopa smrtnosti tokom ovih pandemija značila je da su mrtvi često sahranjivani u brzo iskopane masovne grobnice. Od zuba ovih žrtava kuge, naučnici su sastavili porodično stablo Y. pestis, otkrivši da je soj Justinijanove kuge povezan s drugim sojevima kuge, ali se razlikuje od njih. (Pročitajte kako su moderni sojevi kuge potjecali od soja nastalog tokom pandemije Crne smrti.)


Warp speed!

Ah, warp pogon, taj miljenik naučnofantastičnih zapleta. Šta je sa warp pogonom? Je li to uopće stvar?

Počnimo s "iskrivljujućim" dijelom warp pogona. Bez sumnje, Albert Einsteinova teorija opće relativnosti ("GR") predstavlja prostor i vrijeme kao 4-dimenzionalno "tkivo" koje se može rastegnuti, saviti i presaviti. Gravitacijski valovi, koji predstavljaju valovitost u tkivu prostor -vremena, sada su izravno promatrani. Dakle, da, prostor -vrijeme se može iskriviti. Iskrivljeni dio warp pogona obično znači izobličenje oblika prostor -vremena tako da se dvije udaljene lokacije mogu približiti jedna drugoj - a vi nekako "skočite" između njih.

Ovo je bila osnovna ideja u naučnoj fantastici mnogo ranije Zvjezdane staze popularizirao naziv "warp pogon". Ali do 1994. godine to je ostala naučna fantastika, što znači da iza nje ne stoji nikakva nauka. Te je godine Miguel Alcubierre zapisao rješenje osnovnih jednadžbi GR -a koje su predstavljale regiju koja je komprimirala prostor -vrijeme ispred sebe i proširila prostor -vrijeme iza kako bi stvorila neku vrstu putujućeg mjehurića osnove. Ovo je bila zaista dobra vijest za ljubitelje warp pogona.


Širenje kuge vjerovatno je rezultat mnogih faktora

Wikimedia Commons Janibeg, mongolski ratnik koji je zapovijedao opsadom Kaffe.

Prema radu mikrobiologa Marka Wheelisa iz 2002., iako se opsada Kaffa može smatrati značajnim zapisom o ranom širenju crne kuge, to se ne može smatrati the definirajući događaj koji je bolest uveo u cijelu Europu.

Wheelis tvrdi da se Crna kuga pojavila u Evropi početkom jula 1347. godine, godinu dana nakon opsade Kaffe, ali da se kuga proširila nakon što su je vratili trgovci koji su bježali iz grada, tada bi se pojavila mnogo ranije u istorijskim zapisima . Uostalom, Mongoli su prvi put napali 1343. godine, a Talijani su se vratili u Evropu u proljeće 1347. godine.

Furthermore, de’ Mussi’s account has yet to be corroborated by a separate, secondary source. It is also plausible that there were racial motivations behind de’Mussi’s account, seeing as he blamed the so-called “heathen Tartar races.”

Wikimedia Commons Map of the spread of the Black Plague.

A single instance, like an act of war, can not be considered the defining moment that the plague was introduced to Europe. Instead, it was likely a combination of factors like transatlantic trade and yes, war, working simultaneously, and over great distances that contributed to its deadly reach.


Why the Black Death took longer to appear in Eastern Europe than in Western Europe - History

C oming out of the East, the Black Death reached the shores of Italy in the spring of 1348 unleashing a rampage of death across Europe unprecedented in recorded history. By the time the epidemic played itself out three years later, anywhere between 25% and 50% of Europe's population had fallen victim to the pestilence.

The plague presented itself in three interrelated forms. The bubonic variant (the most common) derives its name from the swellings or buboes that appeared on a victim's neck, armpits or groin. These tumors could range in size from that of an egg to that of an apple. Although some survived


The Plague's Progress
the painful ordeal, the manifestation of these lesions usually signaled the victim had a life expectancy of up to a week. Infected fleas that attached themselves to rats and then to humans spread this bubonic type of the plague. A second variation - pneumonic plague - attacked the respiratory system and was spread by merely breathing the exhaled air of a victim. It was much more virulent than its bubonic cousin - life expectancy was measured in one or two days. Finally, the septicemic version of the disease attacked the blood system.

Having no defense and no understanding of the cause of the pestilence, the men, women and children caught in its onslaught were bewildered, panicked, and finally devastated.

The Italian writer Giovanni Boccaccio lived through the plague as it ravaged the city of Florence in 1348. The experience inspired him to write The Decameron, a story of seven men and three women who escape the disease by fleeing to a villa outside the city. In his introduction to the fictional portion of his book, Boccaccio gives a graphic description of the effects of the epidemic on his city.

The Signs of Impending Death

"The symptoms were not the same as in the East, where a gush of blood from the nose was the plain sign of inevitable death but it began both in men and women with certain swellings in the groin or under the armpit. They grew to the size of a small apple or an egg, more or less, and were vulgarly called tumours. In a short space of time these tumours spread from the two parts named all over the body. Soon after this the symptoms changed and black or purple spots appeared on the arms or thighs or any other part of the body, sometimes a few large ones, sometimes many little ones. These spots were a certain sign of death, just as the original tumour had been and still remained.

The violence of this disease was such that the sick communicated it to the healthy who came near them, just as a fire catches anything dry or oily near it. And it even went further. To speak to or go near the sick brought infection and a common death to the living and moreover, to touch the clothes or anything else the sick had touched or worn gave the disease to the person touching. "

Varying Reactions to Disaster

". Such fear and fanciful notions took possession of the living that almost all of them adopted the same cruel policy, which was entirely to avoid the sick and everything belonging to them. By so doing, each one thought he would secure his own safety.

Some thought that moderate living and the avoidance of all superfluity would preserve them from the epidemic. They formed small communities, living entirely separate from everybody else. They shut themselves up in houses where there were no sick, eating the finest food and drinking the best wine very temperately, avoiding all excess, allowing no news or discussion of death and sickness, and passing the time in music and suchlike pleasures. Others thought just the opposite. They thought the sure cure for the plague was to drink and be merry, to go about singing and amusing themselves, satisfying every appetite they could, laughing and jesting at what happened. They put their words into practice, spent day and night going from tavern to tavern, drinking immoderately, or went into other people's houses, doing only those things which pleased them. This they could easily do because everyone felt doomed and had abandoned his

A plague victim reveals
the telltale buboe on
his leg. Iz
14th century illumination
property, so that most houses became common property and any stranger who went in made use of them as if he had owned them. And with all this bestial behaviour, they avoided the sick as much as possible.

In this suffering and misery of our city, the authority of human and divine laws almost disappeared, for, like other men, the ministers and the executors of the laws were all dead or sick or shut up with their families, so that no duties were carried out. Every man was therefore able to do as he pleased.

Many others adopted a course of life midway between the two just described. They did not restrict their victuals so much as the former, nor allow themselves to be drunken and dissolute like the latter, but satisfied their appetites moderately. They did not shut themselves up, but went about, carrying flowers or scented herbs or perfumes in their hands, in the belief that it was an excellent thing to comfort the brain with such odours for the whole air was infected with the smell of dead bodies, of sick persons and medicines.

Others again held a still more cruel opinion, which they thought would keep them safe. They said that the only medicine against the plague-stricken was to go right away from them. Men and women, convinced of this and caring about nothing but themselves, abandoned their own city, their own houses, their dwellings, their relatives, their property, and went abroad or at least to the country round Florence, as if God's wrath in punishing men's wickedness with this plague would not follow them but strike only those who remained within the walls of the city, or as if they thought nobody in the city would remain alive and that its last hour had come."

The Breakdown of Social Order

Thus, a multitude of sick men and women were left without any care, except from the charity of friends (but these were few), or the greed, of servants, though not many of these could be had even for high wages, Moreover, most of them were coarse-minded men and women, who did little more than bring the sick what they asked for or watch over them when they were dying. And very often these servants lost their lives and their earnings. Since the sick were thus abandoned by neighbours, relatives and friends, while servants were scarce, a habit sprang up which had never been heard of before. Beautiful and noble women, when they fell sick, did not scruple to take a young or old man-servant, whoever he might be, and with no sort of shame, expose every part of their bodies to these men as if they had been women, for they were compelled by the necessity of their sickness to do so. This, perhaps, was a cause of looser morals in those women who survived."

"The plight of the lower and most of the middle classes was even more pitiful to behold. Most of them remained in their houses, either through poverty or in hopes of safety, and fell sick by thousands. Since they received no care and attention, almost all of them died. Many ended their lives in the streets both at night and during the day and many others who died in their houses were only known to be dead because the neighbours smelled their decaying bodies. Dead bodies filled every corner. Most of them were treated in the same manner by the survivors, who were more

Citizens of Tournai bury plague victims. Ovo su
fortunate to have coffins. Most victims
were interred in mass graves
concerned to get rid of their rotting bodies than moved by charity towards the dead. With the aid of porters, if they could get them, they carried the bodies out of the houses and laid them at the door where every morning quantities of the dead might be seen. They then were laid on biers or, as these were often lacking, on tables.

Such was the multitude of corpses brought to the churches every day and almost every hour that there was not enough consecrated ground to give them burial, especially since they wanted to bury each person in the family grave, according to the old custom. Although the cemeteries were full they were forced to dig huge trenches, where they buried the bodies by hundreds. Here they stowed them away like bales in the hold of a ship and covered them with a little earth, until the whole trench was full."

Reference:
Boccaccio, Giovanni, The Decameron vol. I (translated by Richard Aldington illustrated by Jean de Bosschere) (1930) Gottfried, Robert, The Black Death (1983).


How Medieval People Tried to Dance Away the Plague

It was a warm June day in 1374 in the medieval town of Aix-Ia-Chapelle, present-day Aachen, Germany, when the dancing started. It was the holy feast of St. John the Baptist, which aligns with the pagan celebration of Midsummer during the summer solstice. Traditionally, St. John’s Day was a day of rest and worship for the quiet town of Aache n.

This was not to be the case in 1374. It began with a small group, maybe a dozen or so people. All at once, they began to flail their limbs. Some screamed or hooted. Others moved about as if in a trance.

More and more townspeople joined in the erratic dance. Serfs, nobles, men, women, old and young—all took part in the “dancing plague” of Aachen. Some took up instruments like the stringed vielle, pipes or drums . As sociologist Robert Bartholomew notes , the afflicted sometimes even employed musicians to play. Other times music was played in the hopes of curing victims from their dancing hell. As Justus Friedrich Karl Hecker describes in his book, The Black Death and the Dancing Mania , the victims would take hands forming giant undulating circles, spinning round and round in ever-quickening loops. They’d yell, calling out to God or Satan or both. Their movements were haphazard, even epileptic. For hours and hours, the townspeople danced without rest or food or water.

Then, when the sky finally darkened, they dispersed or collapsed. As Historian H. C. Erik Midelfort notes in his book, A History of Madness in Sixteenth-Century Germany , some never would rise again—dying from broken ribs or heart attacks. But, when the sun shined the next day, they took up their dance again. The dancing mania continued for several weeks.

Then, all at once, the dancing plague disappeared from Aachen. People returned to their homes, to their lives. Until, that is, the dancing plague spread to towns beyond Aachen, like that of Liege and Tongres in Belgium, to Utrecht in the Netherlands, to Strasbourg and Cologne in Germany. All along the Rhine, the dancing plague tormented unsuspecting townsfolk.

U svojoj knjizi A Time to Dance, a Time to Die: The Extraordinary Story of the Dancing Plague of 1518 , about the 1518 dancing plague in Strasbourg, France, historian John Waller cites everything from doctors’ notes to city council documents to sermons, all of which unequivocally refer to the dancing of the plague’s victims. They did not appear to be suffering from epilepsy or another convulsion-associated illness. The victims’ movements were, as Waller asserts in his book, rhythmic and very much dancing.

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One of the prevailing theories around the dancing plagues has to do with their timing. When the dancing plague struck Aachen, the devastation of the Black Death was still very fresh in peoples’ minds. During the 14th century, the Black Death is estimated to have killed somewhere between 25% and 50% of Europe’s population . The bacterium Yersinia pestis caused the illnesses associated with the Black Death. The septicaemic plague, the pneumonic plague, and most commonly the bubonic plague all resulted from exposure to Y. pestis. Aside from death, symptoms of the plagues included everything from purple skin to vomiting blood and fever, among other much more grotesque symptoms.

As you might imagine, the people who lived through the horror of the Black Death were questioning their reality and experiencing psychological distress. Death surrounded them. Entire families were decimated overnight. The dead lined the streets and were unceremoniously buried in mass graves. Indeed, there were many extreme reactions to the Black Death.

The Italian writer and chronicler Giovanni Boccaccio, who lived through the Black Death as it ravaged Florence, Italy, writes of such reactions among his neighbors. Some chose to “live temperately and avoid all excess…band[ing] together, and, dissociating themselves from all others, form[ing] communities in houses where there were no sick.” In other words, they isolated themselves from others in their homes in a medieval version of shelter-in-place. Many resorted to intense prayer and fasting in an effort to appease God. But Boccaccio also writes of people who did the opposite, people who would “ drink freely, frequent places of public resort, and take their pleasure with song and revel, sparing to satisfy no appetite, and to laugh and mock at no event. ”

While these two reactions seem to be on opposite ends of the spectrum, both can be linked to the religious fervor of the age, which the Black Death only exasperated. Religion often does quite well during hard times.

Monks and commoners alike considered the Black Death to be divine punishment for their sins. A Franciscan chronicler from Lubeck wrote of the Black Death being God’s retribution for the evil of humans and indicative of the end of times. The Arabic chronicler as-Sulak and the Swiss Franciscan monk John of Winterthur supported the Lubeck Franciscan’s ideas in their own writings during the period. God was unhappy with humanity, so he decided to flex a bit and show that he was the all-powerful one.

The belief that God sent down the Black Death as punishment begins to explain the range of reactions noted by Boccaccio, and even the dancing plague of Aachen in 1374. Because the Last Judgment was thought to be so imminent, people tended to have one of the two reactions Boccaccio lays out: (1) They became hyper-religious and repentant for their sins, or, (2) they figured they had far too many sins to count and might as well live it up. As the Greek historian and general Thucydides of Athens summed it up in his Atinska kuga, “ before [the plague] fell it was only reasonable to get some enjoyment out of life.” So went the thinking of the medievals who decided to go on a spree of imbibing and carousing. During a 1625 bout of the plague in London, poet George Wither echoed Boccaccio’s observation of peoples’ two extreme reactions writing:

Some streets had Churches full of people, weeping
Some others, Tavernes had, rude-revell keeping:
Within some houses Psalmes and Hymnes were sung
With raylings and loud scouldings others rung.

This wave of religiosity turned some people to blaming Satan and, by extension, satanic worship for the Black Death. There was a rise of witchcraft accusations and anti-Semitism during the period, as people looked to place blame on others for the plague’s devastation.

Some scholars believe this same religious zeal sparked the dancing plagues, including the weekslong disco in 1374 Aachen. Scholars Kevin Hetherington and Rolland Munro, in their book Ideas of Difference , refer to the “shared stress” of the Black Death and wars of the time. They theorize that it was this communal stress that caused the dancing plagues. Other scholars, like sociologist Robert Bartholomew, speculate that the dancing plagues were a sort of ecstatic ritual of a heretical religious sect. The historian John Waller believed the plagues were a “ mass psychogenic illness ,” a mass hysteria caused by the psychic distress of the Black Death.

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Waller, along with psychopathologist Jan Dirk Bloom and Bartholomew, all have discussed the theory that a biological agent may have been responsible for the dancing plagues. Namely, that victims of the various dancing plagues may have suffered from ergot poisoning. Ergot, a fungus that can affect rye during wet periods, can cause spasms and hallucination when ingested. But, as Waller and Bartholomew both point out, ergot poisoning cannot explain why victims danced, or why the dancing plagues were so widespread . Whatever the cause, many scholars agree that the Black Death and the dancing plagues are inextricably linked.

But the dancing plagues aren’t the only form of dance the Black Death inspired. Following the devastation of the Black Death, art and allegorical literature took up the theme of dance as well. As early as 1424, we find artistic renderings of the Danse Macabre, also known as the Dance of Death. In the Danse Macabre, Death, depicted as a dancing skeleton, leads people from all walks of life in a final, fatal dance to the grave. Despite one’s wealth or power or lack of either, all must join in the Danse Macabre.

The earliest known depiction of the Danse Macabre is, very fittingly, in a cemetery. It was a fresco in the Cemetery of the Holy Innocents’s charnel house in Paris. It wouldn’t have been a very quiet cemetery with only clergy and mourners within its walls. The cemetery was in a busy part of the city, neighboring a market. The Cemetery of the Holy Innocents would’ve been a place to gather, maybe even chomp down on a baguette. Many people, from all walks of life, would’ve recognized the allegorical fresco as a satirical reminder that you only live once.

Art historian Elina Gertsman has documented the popularity of the Danse Macabre as depictions of the allegory spread throughout Europe. From France, the Dance of Death made its way into cemeteries, churches, and various facades across Switzerland, England, Germany, Italy, and throughout Eastern Europe. The famed artist Hans Holbein the Younger made a series of prints on the subject in the 1520s, and the dancing skeletons of the Danse Macabre can still be found today on everything from Saturday Night Live to off-Broadway stages.

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In addition to the Danse Macabre and the dancing plagues, the Black Death also influenced another dance form to rise in popularity: the ritualistic dances of the flagellants. As medieval historian David Herlihy explains in his book, The Black Death and the Transformation of the West , during the Black Death, bands of people would march into town behind a leader. When they’d reach the town’s central square, their leader would preach about repentance to anyone who would listen. The marchers would sing hymns while performing a “ritual dance.” Then, at the height of the performance, they’d strike a pose representing some form of sin—murder, adultery, perjury, etc.—after which, they’d strip to the waist and beat themselves with whips in repentance. Right there, in the middle of town, in front of a bunch of strangers. Then, they’d put their clothes back on and march to the next town to repeat their performance.

These public flagellation shows became so widespread that in 1348 Pope Clement VI tried to prohibit them. Unfortunately for Clement, the movement had already taken off. As Robert Lerner references in his article, “The Black Death and Western European Eschatological Mentalities” , the flagellants performed their ritual to inspire others to repent before the end of the world came with the Last Judgment. Many believed that the Black Death was indicative of the end of days. Soon enough, God would be sitting on his throne deciding who was going to be allowed to hang out in his home in the clouds. The flagellants believed they were harbingers of the new era that would follow the Black Death. In a way, they were right.

The dancing plagues, the Danse Macabre, and the flagellants were all reactions to the massive upheaval caused by the Black Death. With as much as half of Europe’s population wiped out, a shift was inevitable. Herlihy, in his book , calls the Black Death “the great watershed” in the history of Western Europe. The British historian Denys Hays even ties the devastation of the Black Death to the birth of the Italian Renaissance in his book, The Italian Renaissance in Its Historical Background . After the Black Death, many of the systems medieval Europe relied upon were totally and completely upended.

Take feudalism. Because so many people, especially poorer serfs who worked the land, had died during the plague, those who remained could negotiate better pay. They figured their work was worth more than the military protection traditionally provided to them by their lord. They were right. As environmental historian Jason W. Moore writes in his article, “ The Crisis of Feudalism ,” the Black Death didn’t only spell the end of feudalism, but also ushered in a new era of capitalism.

The massive restructuring of society that followed the Black Death has become known more generally as the Renaissance. To this day, the Renaissance is seen as the turning point between the “past” and the beginning of our modern world . But, before the innovation and ingenuity of the Renaissance would’ve been possible, the people of the 14th century needed to process the atrocities of the Black Death.

There’s still a lot we don’t know about the dancing plagues, the Danse Macabre, and the flagellants. We don’t ultimately know for certain why the people of Aachen danced in 1374. We aren’t entirely sure how images of the Danse Macabre spread like wildfire throughout Europe in the 15th century. We can’t tell what went through the minds of the flagellants as they walked town to town to perform their ritual dance and then beat themselves with whips. We can assume that they needed some way to embody their pain. They needed to dance, beat, and paint it. And, as they did so, perhaps they could begin to process the horrors they had survived. Perhaps they could begin to heal.


Swift spread

In Europe the Black Death first appeared in the Mediterranean basin and spread to most of the corners of the continent in just a few years. But the initial outbreak is thought to have been in the Black Sea port of Caffa, now Feodosiya, on the Crimean Peninsula. In 1346 Caffa was an important commercial trading post run by Genoese merchants. That year it was besieged by the Mongol army, among whose ranks were a growing number of plague sufferers.

As the disease spread, one story has it, the Mongols deliberately hurled infested corpses over the walls. Even more likely is that the bacteria entered the city in fleas carried by the rats scampering between the siege lines. However it arrived, once the city realized it faced a plague epidemic, the Genoese merchants panicked and fled, carrying the sickness with them to Italy.

The Plague in Eastern Europe

Historians and scientists have puzzled about how the Black Death took such a firm hold over such a vast area in such a short time. Some have suggested that the main plague variant was pneumonic rather than bubonic because airborne transmission seems to support its rapid spread. However, pneumonic plague kills so quickly—in a few hours—that it actually spreads slowly because the host rarely lives long enough to infect many people.

Most evidence points to the Black Death being the main bubonic strain of plague, spread far and wide by flea-ridden rats on boats and fleas on the bodies and clothes of travelers. In an age of growing maritime trade, food and goods were carried ever longer distances from country to country, and the rats and their bacteria traveled with them—at an estimated 24 miles a day. The unceasing flow of sea, river, and road traffic between commercial centers spread the plague across huge distances in what is known as a “metastatic leap.” Big commercial cities were infected first, and from there the plague radiated to nearby towns and villages, from where it would spread into the countryside. The plague was also carried down the well-trodden paths of medieval pilgrims holy sites became additional epicenters of regional, national, and international propagation.

Even without such help the plague is estimated to have moved inland more than a mile a day in the right conditions. In very cold and dry areas it slowed to a stop, explaining why Iceland and Finland were among the few places to escape its ravages. A popular refrain in cities of the time ran: “Get out soon, quick and far, and the later you return, the better.” It was advice heeded by many who could afford to flee to the countryside. Yet this brought disastrous consequences. Evacuation did not necessarily save those fleeing, as some were already infected or traveling with plague carriers. However, it did help to spread the disease to new and ever more remote places as evacuees sought the safety of uninfected villages. (Archaeologists have discovered rural mass graves of Black Death victims.)


The Black Death: The Plague, 1331-1770

1331-34: Plague outbreak in Southwestern China spreads through Asia to the Mediterranean.

1345: Plague occurs in Volga River basin and spreads through Eastern and Central Europe eventually reaching Constantinople the main trade link between Europe and Asia.

1347: Black plague reaches Italy

Jan. 1348: Plague reaches Marseille, France

Nov. 1348: Plague reaches London

May 1349: Plague reaches Scotland, Wales and Ireland

1349: Scandinavia affected by the plague

1350: Uncharted Eastern Europe affected by plague

1382: Black plague returns to Europe, takes an especially heavy toll on Ireland

1647: Great plague of Seville

1665: Great plague of London

1666: The Plague in England up until the Great Fire of London that kills the rats carrying the disease

1679: Plague in Central Europe, small outbreak in England

1710-11: Outbreak of plague in Sweden and Finland

1720: Plague in Marseilles

1722: Defoe publishes A journal of the Plague Year, a fictional account of the London 1665 outbreak

1770: Plague in the Balkans lasts about 2 years

Note: While the plague spread through most of Western Europe, not all areas were uniformly devastated by the epidemic. Places with little trade were impacted far less than large ports.

©2017 John Martin Rare Book Room, Hardin Library for the Health Sciences, 600 Newton Road, Iowa City, IA 52242-1098
Image: Pieter Bruegel, The Triumph of Death (detail), c. 1562, oil on panel, 117 x 162 cm, Museo del Prado, Madrid

Acknowledgements to Alice M. Phillips for her work editing the original exhibit material and subsequent web design.

John Martin Rare Book Room

The nearly 6,500 volumes in the John Martin Rare Book Room are original works representing classic contributions to the history of the health sciences from the 15th through 21st Centuries. Also included are selected books, reprints, and journals dealing with the history of medicine at the University and in the State of Iowa.


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