The Black Death – Gruesome Disease

The Black Plague was a gruesome disease that swept across Europe and even into Asia and Africa and killed millions of people and in Europe killed up to 25%-50% of its population. Doctors all over the world struggled to find medical treatments to restore health in the victims. Doctors in Europe tried to find solutions that wouldn’t contradict with the Catholic Church’s beliefs. Many people were dying because of the restrictions the church had and this caused medical views to clash with religious views and led to different opinions over surgery, medical treatments, and the interpretation of the plague.

Surgery was the biggest feud doctors and the Catholic Church had. The practice of cutting into a body and taking the insides out was believed to have an effect on the soul’s journey to heaven. Surgeons argued it was an individual right to educate themselves. The Pope issued for surgery to be illegal and banned the practice of it. Many doctors still practiced surgery in secret and luckily recorded the information for the future which they would use later on when the plague would hit Europe. After the plague hit many people were scared and the Pope reasoned that the dissection of bodies and the understanding of the anatomy would help comfort the survivors. After surgery was legal for quite some time many people including the Pope became favorable about it.

During the Black Death doctors tried everything to see if it would cure the disease. “The first symptom of the Black Death included high temperature, shivering and pain… next stage is red boils on the neck… grows as large as apples… then appearance of small red dots caused by internal bleeding and death soon after.” There are 2 different types of the plague; bubonic and pneumonic. Bubonic plague was from fleas on rats and the pneumonic version was believed to be worse and more infectious. Medical treatments included cutting open the sores and washing the body in vinegar and they believed cutting the body and letting it bleed out was getting rid of the toxins in the blood. The disease was poorly understood from medical standpoints and was believed to be “swallowed in the air”. People thought that if they confessed their sins to priests they would heal or not get the plague and this caused many priests to start dying. Doctors warned people and the Church that they should stay home and not go out to see the priests. People did not listen and so they got worse and spread the diseases into the churches and people who went to church would get it. Many people started to not trust the church and believed they were telling lies and many people severed ties with the Church. They started losing faith and blaming the church for their loved ones death.

Catholics believed the plague was a punishment for the sins they have committed. An article states, “According to Konrad von Megenburg who wrote the Regensburg, human in general had become sinful and that the plague was a culmination of God’s anger to the sinful behavior of humankind” People believed that the plague was God’s way of getting rid of the sinners. They thought there was no way for humans to cure or help the people and this is where doctors and physicians disagreed. After the Pope had made surgery illegal he stated that only God could help them.