Assignment: History 105

A great deal of history concerns not only the decision-makers, but the ordinary folks they led or inspired. You have read a great deal about day-to-day life in Medieval Europe. Pick one aspect of daily life we have studied and compare it to a similar aspect of life today. Examples might include tranportation, faith, doubt, science.


The Fourteenth Century and Today


Any person in the fourteenth century reacted to disease differently than someone would today. In the fourteenth century a European viewed disease as a work of god or an act of the devil. In the 1300's. the Black Death or Bubonic Plague swept through Europe. The public only knew the disease spread from east to west. They made no attempt to find the source of the disease and did not logically search for a natural cause.

The common, misinformed man did not realize that fleas infected black rats, which inturn bit humans. The fleas lived in caravans that people used to travel from east to west. The European took little notice of a rat bite because he or she was not cleanly. Another bite meant very little. They attempted to stop the disease by praying to god. In order to do so, the people packed into the church and outside on the streets. The rats thrived in churches and streets and they infected large numbers of people. Thus, the disease spread quickly and Europeans Puzzled over their outbreak of the plague. Approximately one-third to two-third of the population, mostly common people, died from the Black Death. The families would not care for the victim and ran away from the infected infected family member so as not to catch it.

The disease went through three stages. The first, the Buba or bubble stage, the victim could be cured if a courageous Person drained the puss from the boyle. Many "doctors," the clergy, died in their attempt to cure the patients. The disease if not cured went on to a second stage. The skin hemorrhaged and appeared black and blue. If the sick person survived thus far, they prayed for the recovery of their health, which existed as a minimal chance. At the third stage, little hope remained. He or she experienced a collapsed lung and usally ended their life after a coma. In the terminal stage, most celebrated death because the agony of living tormented them.

The common motif of the fourteenth century, death, preoccupied the minds of the average European. A person, confused about the source of the Bubonic Plague, used visual aids to find the solution. They also used it to comfort themselves in their time of turmoil. A European saw paintings, writings, art, and sculpture of death. At church, he or she heard sermons preached about death. The individual, faced with the dilemma of the plague, reacted in negative and couterproductive ways. He or she acted illogical and only appealed to god for an answer. They appeared afraid and confused for they did not look to find the cause of the Bubonic Plague and to stop its spread.

Today an American approaches a disease, such as AIDS, differently. AIDS, also an epidemic, appeared in America about 1983 and has spread like wildfire ever since. AIDS attacks anyone. A person contracts it if infected blood mixes with a healthy individual's blood. The disease is transmitted through sexual intercourse, needles, and from the blood of a donor. Abstinence and contraceptives are the precautions American take not to risk AIDS. Concerned individuals dispense needles in the streets so that the disease will not spread into the drug population. Blood donors are checked for the disease. People are aware of the disease and desire not to "catch it." An Americans do 50 by distancing themselves from situations where they are at risk. People today know the source of the disease and fund vast amounts of money to find a cure. Similar to the Black Death, a long, drawn out, unpleasant death results. A person may turn to god but definitely visits a doctor who is trained in the field. Families do not flee from the related vitim because they know how AIDS spreads. Research proves that noone contracts AIDS through saliva, being near or swimming with an infected person. They nurse the sick member and attend special meetings and events oriented for the AIDS Patient. The purpose is to uplift the morale the person and comfort them in their remaining time.

Americans today are more tolerant of AIDS than the Euopeans of the fourteenth century were towards the Bubonic Plague. Onlookers admire someone who is suffering bravely from AIDS for their ability to stand against adversity. Laws have been enacted against discrimination of a person in the workplace or school because they have the disease. People today are intelligent, operate advanced technology, and live in a moderized world. Especially in America, a place of opportunity people should search for cures to diseases. The individual desires progress in education and technolgy so as to combat diseases that threaten our nation. People must open their minds to new ideas and realize that a solution must exist. During the Bubonic Plague man was unwilling to challenge God and nature to find an answer and in today's world man strives for logical solutions.

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