The Black Death

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Sure the sight of a black bubble in a person’s skin could scare someone at least a little, or the terrible aches and pains brought about by a disease which no one in the region had heard about or had the slightest idea of a cure for could be a bit frightening. Just as it was during the 14th thru 16th centuries in Western Europe and just as it is today, death was and still is a big thing to fear. Thus, this epidemic that killed one third of Western Europe’s population got to be known as the Black Death, and people feared it. The population’s responses to the Black Death and its consequences were driven by fear due to religious superstition and a lack of knowledge about the epidemic itself. Even the rich and noble feared the plague just as much as the peasants had feared it. No matter of what social class a person was, if the Black Death had hit them, it had hit them. If the person was of a wealthy or noble family, he or she would not have a greater chance of survival than any other peasant who was also infected by the disease. According to Nicolas Versoris, the rich fled, so that the few porters and wage earners were left (doc. ). The concerns of the rich regarding the plague are best demonstrated by Giovan Filippo who declared that gold was for the expense to quarantine pest houses, gallows were for punishing the unhealthy sanitation and putting fear in others, and fire was for the burning of infected things (doc. 6). Even a puritans, Nehemian Wallington, who worked towards religious, moral and societal reforms, showed that he would be the last of anyone in his household to surrender to the plague, throwing the people he knew and his family at it first (doc. ). While most of the people believed it best to run from the plague because of their fear, some, such as Sir John Reresby, held an opposite point of view when he declared that when news of the plague came from Rome, many gentlemen were discouraged from travel but a few and myself (doc. 12). People who lived during the 1400’s and the 1600’s relied on God and religion much too extensively in everyday life and that led to people having superstitions linked to religion because of the plague. Surely, one of the first things people would blame the plague on was God since the belief was that God controlled everything, including disease. The concerns of those not deeply involved with the church still show a reliance on God and a blaming of God for the plague. This is best demonstrated by M. Bertrand,

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