AP European History
26 September 2014
Chapter 9 DBQ
Throughout the course of the plague, beginning in Italy in 1348, many people had different responses to how the plague was spread and who caused it. These different responses show how the people during the Middle Ages were ignorant to how disease spread and how it was instigated. Many people blamed God and Jews, others prayed, and finally others secluded themselves during the spread of the plague. Most responses proved to be ineffective for stopping the plague, while others were well thought out and logical reasons to escape the plague and its mortifying power.
After the plague had already been unleashed in Europe, one of the first reactions was people believing that God had unleashed the deadly disease, as depicted in Giovanni Sercambi’s (Doc 3) illustration of angels, coming down from the heavens, delivering their arrows of death unto the people. Sercambi acknowledges that some people were able to escape the arrow of the Black Death in the description of his illustration. As an apothecary, it makes sense that he views the plague as being delivered by arrows, because normally disease does not affect everyone. Disease, like arrows bypass those who are immune and strike those that are not immune. Another depiction of the plague by an anonymous source (Doc 6) illustrates that a divine entity was delivering the plague to those on earth. The common belief that God caused the plague shows how many people were religious and believed in God and thought that He was punishing them.
An alternate view of the plague was blame. Many people blamed the Jews, while others blamed God and beat themselves in hopes of God intervening. Boccacio (Doc 2) discusses that people would torture themselves, the Flagellants, in hopes of God’s mercy. This response to the plague was very erratic but somewhat logical because even though they beat themselves, it was for a reason, a call for God’s help. With...
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