“Causes” and “Cures”

Physicians at Paris University claimed that the stars had infected the sea, causing it to give off a vapour, which fell as rain. The only way to protect yourself from this vapour was to light huge bonfires; then you had to make sure that you were not rained on, and that you did not use rain water for cooking.

In Switzerland people accused Jews of poisoning the water supplies. In one Swiss town every Jew was rounded up and burned to death. This was one of the saddest incidents during the Black Death. While millions of people were dying of the disease, healthy Jewish people lost their lives because of the fear and ignorance of others.

Some thought that God had sent the plague to punish people’s wickedness. In Germany and eastern Europe, people wandered from village to village, whipping themselves mercilessly to show they were sorry. These flagellants, as they were called, were refused entry to many towns because of their violence and extreme views. This was sensible anyway because the flagellants themselves might have been infected with the plague.

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