Examples of post-plague paintings (click to enlarge)
The Consequence of the Great Plague on Art and Artists in the Middle Ages
Symptoms include swelling of the lymph nodes, high fevers, large blackish pustules that quickly burst, oozing a foul smelling liquid, aching limbs, and vomiting of blood. In the end the sufferer turned into an unrecognizable, misshapen hobgoblin. They died by the millions, alone in agony, their kinsmen fleeing in terror. Government and Clergy tried to control the catastrophe by instituting quarantines, but the disease progressed relentlessly, eventually killing off a substantial segment of Europe's population. Preventing the Plague Many believed that the disease was spread upon the air, So, the survivors turned to incense, flowers, fragrant oils and perfumes to ward off the deadly vapors that they believed to be causing the contamination. With so many bodies piling up, if nothing else the air smelled a bit better. It is a myth that people did not bathe in the Middle Ages, there were communal baths in almost every village. They did not bathe every day but most bathed weekly during the warmer months. People began airing out their linens and burning bedding used by the victims. This probably helped to staunch the death tide in a small way. Towns rang church bells, fired cannons and held parades where all the citizens paraded through the streets banging pots and pans to drive the plague away. Gypsies, heretics, foreign travelers, dwarfs and lepers were rounded up and put into wooden buildings and roasted alive as they were believed to be the carriers of the disease. Medieval entrepreneurs made a fortune selling talismans, lucky charms and enchantments. Peasants who could not afford such luxuries simply wore a necklace of garlic around their necks or crushed herbs in their pockets. Some people believed that is you cut off a finger or toe the disease would spare you. Fingers and toes were lopped off by the thousands. People were frantic for a remedy and would try anything, no matter how peculiar or bizarre. Life in the Middle Ages In the Medieval period, people concentrated mainly on the church, God, and personal salvation. Life in Medieval Europe was primitive and far more difficult than that of Imperial Rome. The Average life expectancy was only 30. Christianity provided an ethical element lacking in previous cultures.
A song about the Plague from the Middle Ages
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Foremost Painters from
the Middle Ages
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