Europeans routinely attacked Jewish communities during the plague years, seeing them as alleged causes of the epidemic. There are other ways in which the afflicted communities reacted in an attempt to guard themselves against the plague. As described by Kelly (2005), the affected communities believed that there is always a reason as to why a plague takes course. However, both the officials and civilians in the affected communities could not establish this cause. The officials therefore did not react to the masses because there was no any reason for that. The Europeans however blamed the Jews for the trouble that befell them. However, there was a group of nomads, the Tartars who sojourned from China all the way to the Black sea while trading. These are the people who came into contact with the pandemic and spread it. This group of nomads however reacted differently. They catapulted all the bodies which were infected amongst them into a territory which was under siege. However, they were later forced to get rid of this siege because they had no control.
More reactions resulted after the siege was broken and the inhabitants who survived boarded ships. The belief held was that these ships carried rats all the way to Italy through which the plagued landed in Europe. In the October of 1347, the ships believed to have had carried the pandemic landed in Sicily. On realizing that the plague was attacking them, they reacted so harshly demanding the ships to leave at once. The peasant now demanded more pay. Those who survived changed their social status owing to the action they took to benefit from the shortage of workers. Therefore, the peasants apparently did not react in anyway to blame any one but took on the occurrence for their benefit. However some people of high social class amongst the affected communities made efforts to control food prices as well as wages to peasants. However, their reaction s on this matter did not bear much fruit.
The government could not manage and control the civilians. Generally, hysteria, fear, panic and terror were the most prevalent reactions seen with many people. People fled leaving behind their families. Priests and doctors conducted noble actions which were later overwhelmed by individuals who failed to nurse their sick or offer last rites to the victims of the plague. Others believed that it was the end time. They thus went into wild debauchery while others sought to be saved. Some other members in affected communities like the flagellants moved to a number of towns in parades along the streets and beat themselves up as a way of showing their apologies and remorse. Another group of people reacted to this pandemic by seeking a solution from the church; making prayers to God that he would end the plague.
The reactions based on religion had extreme turn of events which included the emergence of flagellants and the persecutions Jews got from the Europeans. People fled their communities which were affected and started off other areas which were not infected. Doctors made a number of cure attempts but failed. These included doctors like Gui de Chauliac. Another doctor Chalin de Vinario asserted that there was no cure for the plague. The rich people locked themselves up in their houses to prevent contact from servants. The poor literary fled from those affected in their communities. The sick were left to die alone and even went unburied. A good number of the people tried herbal concoctions by drinking and smearing them on the boils. Apart from the Jews, a number of other groups like the lepers, pilgrims, foreigners, gravediggers, friars, witches and beggars were held in contempt. Lepers were isolated and killed all through Medieval Europe. Discrimination founded on lifestyle and culture resulted. Innocent people fell victims by being accused of witchcraft. Generally, people were very desperate and were left to dire predictions. Doctors, governments not even the priests reacted in a manner that brought any salvation to the affected communities.
We have seen that Islam as a religion and culture placed value on tolerance and peaceful co-existence. Well, the same can be said for the Roman Catholic Church in Medieval Europe. The Roman Catholic Church was at a time the centre of the medieval existence and was indeed powerful. The Catholic Church made its laws and controlled many aspects of life for the citizens in Europe as at this time. This was more especially the individuals who did not confide in the church beliefs. The power of the church was due to the fallen Empire of the Romans. The Emperor got a lot of influence from the Pope having the conviction that the only path to heaven was by way of the church. The people thus feared condemnation as heretics. The fall of the Roman Empire made the Roman Catholic Church strong.
There was a time referred to as the “dark ages” in Europe when there was knowledge loss following the downfall of Rome. Monks were part of the small group of people who could write and read. Therefore, the Catholic Church had a lot of influenced in matters of written knowledge. After the fall of Rome, there was no federal government in Europe and since many people were religious, the church was the source of guidance, providing a lot of power to the church over the minds and hearts of people. The influence and power of the Pope gave the Catholic Church a lot of power. The Pope was a very authoritative man and was referred to as the highest authority as it was the belief that he had the keys to both hell and heaven. All the same, some disagreements would arise between the Roman Emperor and the Pope but the Pope’s word was final. Failure to heed to the Pope was seen as heresy. It was better for the Roman Emperor to abstain from any argument between him and the Pope.
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The belief that the Catholic Church was the only way to heaven also made it powerful. This was more so because there was also another perception that hell was there for those who did not heed to the counsel of the Catholic Church. The fear of condemnation to eternal pain and suffering made many people do according to the demands of the church. So, many resorted to go to church on a daily basis or doing anything that would make them avoid hell. The Roman Catholic Church was like a ticket that would guarantee people entry to heaven. Fear amongst the people made the church strong and very much influential. People feared punishment if they disobeyed the teachings of the church.
There was a belief that the Church could through a very divine right take possession of property from heretics, condemn people to flames and imprison them. The right to give severe penalties even unto death belonged to the church. There was no greater offense like that one of heresy and therefore was rooted out by all means possible. One heresy of the Southern France, Cathar disobeyed the teachings of the church and commanded a crusade to eliminate the heretics. Later on the many Cathers were humiliated and burnt for twenty six years till they were wiped out entirely. The incident is commonly known as the Albigensian Crusade. The Catholic Church in addition humiliated and killed between fifty million and a hundred and fifty million persons. Owing to these facts and figures, people remained entirely under the reign of the Catholic Church.
Generally, the Catholic Church was actually very powerful in the mid ages following the fall of the Roman Emperor rule among such factors as the influence that the pope had on the emperor and that the church was the only key to heaven. Therefore, the Roman Catholic Church as a religion and culture placed value on tolerance and peaceful co-existence as Islam did. People eventually feared accusations of being heretic. These are robust proves as to why the Catholic church played somewhat a significant role like the Islam community in promoting a harmonious, peaceful and collaborative atmosphere of rule and governance
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