The due to the terror struck into heart

The Black
Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in the human history that
started from Asia, Africa, and reached Europe to cause a rampage of death
across Europe unprecedentedly in recorded history. The Black Death, also known
as The Bubonic Plague, was one of the most deadly pandemics in history. It
devastated countries such as Egypt, China, Italy, and England. Though the
terrible effects of The Black Death were evident from the accounts of those
times, but what was even worse was what humans did when it struck different
cities. Although the immediate reaction was shock, horror, disbelief, and
grief, but people from different professions and spheres of life reacted to
this pandemic in their own ways. Thus, during the plague of The Black Death, some
people turned to God for prayers, some took it as a chance to make more
earnings, some escaped and abandoned their relatives, and some of them acted
more devotedly and reconciled with their loved ones believing that they won’t
have long enough to live.

            When death toll began to rage and
people died within a week during The Black Death, some people reacted to it by
abandoning their loved ones. According to Giovanni Boccaccio’s The Decameron, written in the 14th
century about a group of seven young women and
three young men sheltering in a secluded villa just
outside Florence to escape the Black Death, some people had a
cruel opinion to keep themselves safe. They thought that the only medicine to
stay safe from the plague was to get away from the plague-stricken people (Pg.
398). Neighbors stopped visiting neighbors, wives abandoned their husbands, and
worse, even fathers and mothers refused to see or attend their children, so
terrorized were they by the plague. Hence, those who were convinced by this
idea left behind their houses and city and abandoned their plague-stricken
relatives, fleeing for a safer place. Moreover, Boccaccio mentioned that
people would hardly visit their relatives; “one citizen avoided another,” and even
a brother abandoned the brother due to the terror struck into heart because of
this calamity. Nevertheless, people reacted selfishly and meanly during this
pandemic and even abandoned those who were closest to them while frightening
death.

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            Many
people also believed that the plague was God’s punishment to the world for the
wickedness of humanity. A religious group called the flagellants moved from
town to town and whipped themselves as an attempted penance. Thus, another way people reacted to The Black Death was
that they turned more towards their religious activities. For instance,
many people instead turned to the church for a cure, praying that God would end
the great pestilence. Similarly, Ahmad Al-Maqrizi in “The Plague in Cairo”
explained that many people “multiplied their acts of devotion.” Some Christians
became more pious, believing that their piety might endear them to God. Therefore,
some people reacted by assuming a no-holds-barred attitude toward life, giving
their leisure life over to monks, priests, nuns and lay men.

            Similarly, for some, the acts of
brotherhood and kindness were multiplied as they prepared themselves for the
death. They reconciled with each other and distributed their wealth and alms
among the poor. Nonetheless, where some reacted to it in a more harsh and
selfish manner, other were now seeing death more closely and trying to achieve
the best out of their expectedly less days of life here. Therefore, they
thought themselves rich because they had escaped and regained the world.

            On the contrary, there were some
people who took this pandemic as a chance to multiply their wealth. Workers’
wages skyrocketed as there was no one left in the army and farms to work. It also
disrupted the trade and put manufacturing on hold as skilled artisans and
merchants died by the thousands. Desperate for the people to work their land, landlords
were forced to renegotiate farmers’ wages. As mentioned by Ahmad Al-Maqrizi in
“The Plague in Cairo,” porters, gravediggers, and Quran reciters demanded more
for their services due to the increasing number of deaths. Hence, some selfish
workers who did not think of the calamity and took this opportunity to multiply
their wealth, charged a lot for their services for the burial services. For
instance, Al-Maqrizi mentioned in “The Plague in Cairo” that “the gravedigger
demanded fifty dirhams” and “porters demanded 6 dirhams at the time they were
engaged.” Just as the readers of the Qur’an for funeral ceremonies charged high
for their services, Church members also grew richer by charging more money for their
services, such as saying mass for the dead. However, very few lived long enough
to profit thereby, and those who remained alive would have been able to do
without.

            Another effect this plague had on
people was that no one received family invitations for festivities or weddings.
There were no such events, as according to Al-Maqrizi, “Family festivities and
weddings had no more place in life.” Moreover, the marriage rate and birth
rate rose sharply as part due to predatory men marrying rich orphans and widows
and more and more marriages. However, the recurrence of plague kept the
population level low. Hence, as a whole, the society was now more engaged in marital
activities, but the formal invitations to such events were not common because
of the ongoing plague’s disasters and “no one issued an invitation to a feast during
the whole time of the epidemic.”

            There were many myths about the
cause of the outburst of this pandemic. People used different ways to cure from
it. Some used medicines and syrups. Others used fires and scents to prevent the
bacteria and ward off the miasmas. They burned aromatic woods, such as rosemary,
amber, musk and fragrant flowers at the street corners or even carried them
while walking across the streets. Some people also plague-proofed their homes
by putting glaze on the windows to block the polluted wind. Hence, the
immediate reactions to plague were based on different myths regarding the cause
of this plague.

            Some extremist religious reactions
took two popular forms, i.e. rise of the flagellants and the persecution of
Jews. The flagellants believed that plague was a form of punishment by God and
they took it upon themselves to try to appease God by whipping themselves. They
marched in the streets barefooted while whipping themselves with the spiked
sticks or scourges, and said prayers for God’s forgiveness. During this
procedure, enormous crowds usually gathered to watch the ritual beatings. The
Flagellant movement was a cope for many people who had lost their friends and
families due to plague and needed a way to purge of grief or just a diversion
from all the suffering. On the other hand, this movement may also have caused
the spread of plague as the “flagellants were seen as fanatics who actually
spread the plague even further because they carried the dangerous bacteria with
them” (“The Black Death”). Nevertheless, the flagellant movement was a reaction
by a group of people who suffered from the plague and wanted to find peace by punishing
themselves.

            The other ones reacted by inhabiting
themselves with extremely anti-Semitic thoughts. Because Jews were living apart
from Christians during those times in separate quarters, they usually had
better survival rates. Hence, anti-Semitism reached severity when many Christians
came to believe that Jews were poisoning the wells and causing the Black Death.
As a consequence, persecution of Jews took a toll and “while attacks on Jews
were widespread throughout Europe, few Jews were left in countries like Germany
by the time the plague ended” (Edmonds). Nevertheless, The Black Death gave
rise to the anti-Semitist beliefs and many Jews were burned or persecuted by the
extremist reactions as vengeful Christians burned Jews at the stake or set
buildings filled with entire Jew communities on fire.

            All
in all, The Black Death or The Bubonic Plague was a catastrophe during the
fourteenth century that took lives of millions of people in the Asia, Africa,
and finally hit the Europe. When the plague hit different area, people of those
regions reacted in their own ways to it. Some believed it to be a punishment of
God, and they turned to the Church for help. On one hand, there were lots of
bequests to the Church. While, on the other hand, the people of Church or the
Church members reacted to it by charging high for their services and they
became richer for some of their services. Similarly, in the Cairo and Muslim
regions, those who provided services for burial procedures charged as high as
fifty dirhams for grave digging. Movements like the Flagellant movement and
anti-Semitist movements also rose as a result of violent reactions by the
people. Some Jews protested against anti-Semitist revolts by setting up their
own homes on fire before the angry Christian mobs did it for them. Nevertheless,
people of different spheres of life, from different religions, and from
different regions had their own reactions to this world’s worst pandemic.