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Medical ideas and practices at the time of the Black Death and the influence of religion/What did people believe caused the Black Death?

The Black Death was a plague that spread across Asia, into Europe, with devastating effect. For an overview of the spread of the disease and information about the disease itself, go to this page. Here we are concentrating on how different people reacted to Plagues.

Starter: go to this page on the website - watch clip 4.

The following are all pictoral representations of the Plague. They provide us witth clues about what people thought caused the disease. Look at the images and note down the different views that are shown. What do they suggest people think caused the Black Death?

All images are from the Wellcome Library and are available via a Creative Commons License. Under the terms of the Creative Commons Licence, anyone is free to copy, distribute, and display the image, providing that the image is fully attributed to Wellcome Images and used solely for non-commercial purposes.


Christ throwing down arrows (of plague), transfixing victims lying on the ground, saints interceding; anon. for the Carmelites of Gottingen.


Comet seen in the sky: 1340 and plague at Florence in which 16,000 people died.

A physician using pomander, taking the pulse (?) of a man sick with plague; right., attendant with urine-flask basket.

A procession of flagellants. Etching by Francois Morellon de la Cave.


When you have made a list of the different beliefs that are shown in these images, watch this video. Add any additional beliefs to your list.










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