What are bitumen pits

Death was black (2)

Especially in the poorer areas of the cities plagued by the plague, life became a torture. If there was still the consolation of priests at the beginning of the plague, this ceased over time. The lower clergymen and friars who were supervised with these tasks also became infected and died. The supply of food stalled because many of the farmers had also succumbed to the plague and thus fewer and fewer goods came to the markets. Plague servants marched through the streets in the morning to pick up the dead that relatives had laid on the street to die. It is known from Venice that the city ran out of servants during the plague. Prisoners were taken out of the dungeons to do this work. In turn, they often took the opportunity and took everything from the dead that could somehow be turned into money. Unfortunately, it was the clothes that the fleas were wearing. So the disease often spread to other areas that were previously spared. It is also known that the servants sometimes did not wait for death to occur. The dying were also loaded. Initially, attempts were made to enable the dead to have a Christian burial, but over time there was no time for this and plague pits were created into which the victims were thrown. Then the corpses were showered with unslaked lime and on top of that came the next layer of victims.

Again and again one faced the desperate question about where from and why. In France, scholars believed that a conjunction of the planets Saturn, Mars and Jupiter in 1345 caused the plague. The damp but hot Jupiter in relation to Mars is to blame. This created bad smells, the 'miasms', which spoiled the air. Elsewhere it was miasms that would have arisen from bad thoughts. The only means would be to flee. Charlatans sold various remedies that were supposed to protect against the calamity (centuries later, a converted Spanish Jew who had taken the name Nostradamus should become known with them). On top of all of this, there was a feeling of guilt. In the Christian West, the flagellant parades of the 13th century revived; Penitents who subjected themselves to ritual self-flagellation several times a day, hoping for mercy. *
For most, the plague was God's punishment and so one tried to avert the disaster with pledges, penances and donations. The many pillars of plague that can still be seen today bear witness to this.

At the same time, the church benefited from the epidemic. Many sick people bequeathed all their belongings to the church, all in the hope of going to heaven in the life beyond. There was an apocalyptic mood. For many, it was the horsemen of the apocalypse who brought in their crops. In some areas this attitude led to complete moral decline. The motto was: what the heck, death will get us anyway….

The longer the plague lasted, the more intense one started after one To find the guilty party. And finally he was found in the Jews. The wells are said to have poisoned them and brought evil to the true believers. As a result, there were a large number of pogroms that killed thousands of Jews. In Worms, 400 members of the Jewish community burned in their homes. They were set on fire because their residents refused to be baptized. In Mainz, the Jews started the attack as a prophylactic measure, killing over 200 citizens in the process. They then went to their homes, set them on fire, and collectively committed suicide. There was no plague in Strasbourg, but the citizens massacred nearly 1,000 Jewish residents of the city. The church and some rulers opposed this persecution, but could not stop the persecution. Many Jews emigrated at this time and moved to Poland, where King Casimir III gave them to them. Offered asylum. This tried to increase the number of the population in order to develop further economically.


When the epidemic slowly subsided in 1353, it left a devastated Europe. Many structural changes occurred during this period, and European society began to change. For example, serfdom was abolished and the hitherto strict guild system was opened up. Services became more expensive and wages rose. Technical innovations were in demand and the tremendous success of the then newly invented printing press was not least due to the plague.

But the plague remained. It came at regular intervals in the centuries that followed. Medicine began to adapt to it only slowly. Quarantine was introduced in Venice, and plague houses were built in the rest of Europe. But even in these smaller plague epidemics, the number of victims was high. It would take until the late 18th century before an improvement in the hygienic conditions, sewer systems and strict controls weakened the disease and it was no longer a bogeyman in Europe.

Anyone who thinks all of this is in the past is wrong. It still exists today, the plague. Medical aids are now available, but the disease keeps flaring up. Even in our time.
1921 in Inner Mongolia. 6,000 people worked in the Dalai Nur bitumen mines. A plague epidemic killed over 1,000 workers.
1993 broke them in the Indian Surat out. Over 6000 cases were counted, 56 people died. (In this case, the plague pathogen might have been a somewhat more harmless mutation).
In the Democratic Republic Congo is the plague as a recurring disease permanently existent. Up to 1000 cases are counted annually.
Likewise in Madagascar. Outbreaks occur repeatedly in some regions of the island.

But the plague is not only at home in developing countries - in the US, around 10-20 plague cases occur in the southwestern states each year. Cat owners are mostly affected. Fleas from prairie dogs also spread to cats and come to humans.

The increasing resistance of many people to antibiotics increases the chances of the plague returning. Not really good prospects ...


* This flagellation was not subject to a fixed ritual, as is often shown. A train lasted exactly 33 ½ days (corresponding to the age of Jesus). The trains usually consisted of around 50 participants and were organized in a similar way to religious orders. Participants vowed obedience to an elected leader and then moved from place to place. The faces were covered by hoods, and the flagellants carried their scourges in their right hand. When moving into a village, the church bells were rung and the crowd moved into the church, where they threw themselves to the ground and made confession. A carefully rehearsed ritual then led to the flagellation, which was carried out a total of three times. These Geißler trains did not meet with everyone's approval. There were places that denied them entry. (A good overview of this phenomenon: flagellants)


—————- END ———— THANK YOU for the great guest post! ———————-


If you still want to find out more about the plague, I recommend this ZDF documentary:

Photo at the top (article image): ludenhausen.de

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