World History AP – 8
November 28, 2011
The Black Death was known as a very fatal disease that struck many locations and wiped out many countries and cities. The Black Death took the lives of almost 1/3 of the population. It all started by infection from fleas on rats, but the Christians and Muslims see it differently. Not only did the responses of the Christians and the Muslims differentiate by the way they responded to the plague, but also the non-religious causes. While the Christians thought of it as a punishment from the Holy God, the Muslims found it as a gift from God himself. On the other hand, the causes of the plague involved none of that, just the simple spreading by miasma, insanitation and of course the rat infestation.
The Christians believed that the plague was sent to them as a punishment from God. They assumed it was a way for them to pay for their sins and their wrong doing. According to the information given in Document 4, the plague was received to them from God as a punishment for their sins. So and so stated that, “… When the Lord is enraged, embrace acts of penance, so that you do not stray away from the right path and perish.” Also mentioned in Documents 7, 8, and 9 it is assumed that the Christians also had the Jews to blame for this raging epidemic that struck. Document 7 implied that the Jews had been blamed for poisoning the wells, causing the Christians to die not only from the plague, but also the water they had been drinking. This incident led to the burning and banning of the Jew community(s).
The responses of the Muslim community differentiated from the Christians in which the Muslims actually believed that the plague was sent to them as a worthy gift from God. They took the Black Death in a more positive approach. Muhammad al-Manbiji expresses in Document 4 that the plague that “… the epidemic is abhorrent because the plague is a blessing from God; at the least, a Muslim should devoutly accept the divine act.” Approaching Document 10,
The bubonic plague wasn’t just a gift or a punishment from the Holy God, but also just a severe disease spread by rats, insanitation and miasma, or impure winds. The facts in Document 5 show that the main non-religious causes of the Black Death involve impure air, the conjunction of Saturn, Jupiter and Mars (March 20, 1345) and excessive clothing in Europe; along with an excessive amount of shooting stars, miasma and sins in the East. There were ways to prevent the disease from spreading by building fires, shielding houses from the outside and basically just isolating yourself from the contaminated world. In Document 6, it is implied that the priests were a bit selfish when it came to helping the affected. They seemed to not want to sacrifice their life for the sake of someone else’s, so as it says in the document, “…many benefices remained unserved.” The plague was reaching out to others quickly, and snatching away innocent lives even quicker. Documents 1 and 2 are just the results and the routes of the Black Death and where it attacked. There was barely any way to escape it because it was everywhere. Death rates are shown to be over 30%, which counts as 1/3 of the population.
The bubonic plague struck everywhere possible, and it was seen in many different perspectives. While the Christians approached it as a punishment from sins and what they did wrong, the Muslims saw it as a gift or a blessing from God. It was seen as a negative and positive way. Looking at it from a factual perspective though, it also could’ve started from the impure winds and infestation of rats and very filthy ways of life. The Christian responses, Muslim responses and non-religious responses all contrasted in their own ways. Looking back on what documents were available for my use, I feel as if another article explaining why they didn’t stick to the preventions of the Black Death to stay alive.