The era of ignorance and obscurantism Part 1

The culprit of the worst epidemics in the history of mankind, the plague will only discover their secrets. Only in 2015, scientists learned that her agent was deadly in just ten thousand years ago, a mass killing of people began in the late bronze age. Usually, the rapid spread of “black death” among medieval Europeans attributed to the fact that they are almost never washed. Blame in the epidemic of unsanitary conditions and how true the idea of smelly and dirty middle Ages?…

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Throw catapult

By the mid-fourteenth century, Europe did not know of the plague for almost eight hundred years — plague Bacillus was endemic to these areas, and its carrying rats and fleas, certain types themselves could not get from China on the opposite end of the continent.

But in 1346 it helped a little bit — catapult. The Horde besieging the Genoese trading station of Kaffa in the Crimea, a plague decimated, and they started to throw dead bodies into the fortress. Fleas carried bubonic plague into besieged, and after the retreat of the Horde, the Genoese ships left in the Mediterranean, carrying the “black death” on the expanses of Europe.

This caused an unprecedented catastrophe: the most victims of the plague of the country lost a third to half of the population. The total number of deaths is estimated at several million people.

Since then the plague left Europe: local fleas (rat) and rats themselves become permanent carriers. Major epidemics occurred in the Old world until the eighteenth century.

The middle Ages developed a bad reputation. “The normal level of medieval atrocities”, “the middle ages — an era of cultural decline, ignorance and obscurantism,” and so on.

In particular, it is considered that with the fall of the Roman Empire, Europe forgot how to make soap, and abandoned the custom of washing. In General, “the Church forbade bathing as nakedness is a sin”. In addition, the lack of understanding of what disease is caused by bacteria, and not the will of God, prevented to declare a quarantine and correctly to fight the epidemic.

Alas, these views are based on the best research of the historical science of the XVIII-XIX centuries, already in the last century could not withstand the test of facts. Even in early medieval Germany, where no Roman traditions have never been, the word “bath” is found in the Bavarian truth of the VIII century, as well as many other sources.

Common were public baths, where he washed both men and women — because the idea of prohibition of nudity in public places, attributed to the Church, in fact, emerged in Europe only in the XIX century.

In Paris in the XIII century the number of public baths in the tens, and the British lexicographer of the XII century, the monk Alexander Neckam wrote that he woke up in the morning from a too loud screaming attendant, beckoning people to their establishments. The only thing that seriously embarrassed the Church in these places is that they are often used somewhat inappropriately.

Findings in a Tyrolean castle Lemberg has shown that in medieval Europe, was not only depicted on many medieval miniatures Brae (to the XV century looked like boxers), but bras and women’s panties are quite a modern form. Moreover, Michel de Montaigne (XVI century) mentions the manner of change is underwear with a frequency that practice, unfortunately, not all our contemporaries.

The invention of the quarantine

It is doubtful, and the idea that medieval people believed the only source of disease is the wrath of God, which did not take measures against the plague.

Before our era it was known that “tiny creatures, invisible to the eye, floating in the air, enter the body through the mouth and nose, causing a serious disease”. Talked about them, though less confidently, and Venice of the XV century doctor Girolamo.

And although in the Middle ages, more common was the Greek theory of miasma — noxious gasses, poisoning the body and causing disease, it is also logically led to the action to quarantine.

The authorities of Genoa were not allowed into the city of the sick on pain of death. In Venice with 1348 made all the court came to wait in a long sea (the incubation period of plague is small), and all deaths from diseases of the townspeople were ordered to bury them at considerable depth on a dedicated island.

The word “quarantine” has been derived from the medieval Venetian dialect and it means 40 days of isolation for arriving ships. Moreover, the experience of the organization of anti-epidemic struggle in the Venice of that time even today’s experts recognized so exemplary that he proposed to draw lessons from modern Ebola outbreak.