The Black Death: How Different Were the Christian and Muslim Responses?
In the year of 1348, The Black Death broke out as a great pandemic that affected much of Eurasia. A large part of the influence on the reactions of the people living in this era came from religion. The dominant religions in this time were Christianity, mostly stemming from Europe, and Islam, which was stemming from Asia and the Middle East. The two monolithic deities, Allah and God, both were very influential beings at this time. The documents analyzed prove a massive difference between the Christians’ and Muslims’ reactions based on the overall context, the causes behind the disease, and the behavior of the people during the time.
The first three documents describe the general context in which the plague is found. Document one is a map showing the spread of the disease in the Middle East. The line show the patterns in which the people migrated across the land to different cities. The Christians did not have a specific “holy city” in Europe, so they had no refuge from the Lord to flee to. However, the lines drawn show that the Muslims came from specifically Cairo to Mecca. Mecca is a holy city that Muslims take a pilgrimage to as part of their submissions. The Muslims probably found comfort in their holy city, and those that were able to went from Cairo to be in the company of Allah. The Christians did not travel to anywhere in particular because the bible does not tell of a specific city that is deemed holy except Jerusalem, and the only religious people taking a pilgrimage to Jerusalem during this time would be Jews and not many Christians. Therefore, the Muslims decided to migrate more in groups, as opposed to the Christians who panicked and ran away from the disease. However, one must take into account the point of reference of the map as it only shows the Middle East. The Christians could have spread farther to other places that at the time we could assume they considered “holy”, but we do not know because of the lack of areal view. We could see the other places where people fled with a map with a more expansive world view. Document two shows mortality estimates in different regions. The first death toll is in Christian Europe with a population loss of approximately one third. The second death toll is for England which includes half the population being lost, (2,000,000 of 4,000,000). This death toll shows the rates of different classes of people as well which includes the general population, as opposed to the priests and monks. The priests and monks had greater exposure to the sick and to germs by praying with the sick and their families causing them to be more susceptible since they were in close quarters with the germ throughout a majority of their day. Then they would go back to the monasteries to sleep with all the other monks and priests that had been around the germ as well. The priests’ and monks death rate was about 45% while the general population of England’s peoples’ death rate was about 33%. The third death toll is the Middle East’s population. The mortality rate is about one third for that area as well. However, the Middle Easterners do not include a death toll for the Muslims, indicating that religion did not separate all their peoples during that time. Although religion was a nice thing to rely on, the Middle Easterners definitely showed more of a sense of community as a region as a whole, rather than the Christians who only accepted the people of their religion. This document is rather unbiased, although the population figures are only estimates. This applies specifically to the case of the death toll for the Middle East. With a pre-plague population that ranged from 4 to 8 million people 4 million people in between makes a large difference on the death percentage. The third document is a couple of diary entries by two men about the plague, one living in the Middle East and one living in Italy. The first entry...
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