The Plague Essay Research Paper The impact

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The Plague Essay, Research Paper The impact of the plague on European culture To properly understand the impact of the plague and the historical marks it left it is necessary to consider all aspects of society. The Bubonic Plague otherwise known as the Black Death was responsible for the deaths of over 25 million people reducing the population of Europe by one third. Originating in Asia the plague swept through Europe between 1347 and 1350 spread by the Black Rat carrying the oriental flea in its coat. The term Black Death finds its origins from the characteristic black swellings in armpits and groins of the afflicted persons. The plague is now considered one of the most devastating events in western European history. It was easily spread through the seaports and fast

affected millions of people throughout Europe. The plague undoubtedly affected, directly or indirectly, all the people whom witnessed its horrifying consequences. This tragedy resulted in the reconstruction of many social ideologies. It guided European society and its inherent culture in a new direction, influencing many of cultural icons of the diverse and impressionistic Renaissance movement. Virtually no aspect of European society was unaffected by the Black Plague for it changed the cultural elements and eschatological mentalities which were the foundations of society, in particular the Plague shaped the artistic outlooks and mediums of the Renaissance movement resulting in some of the famous cultural expressions which are considered hallmarks of European popular culture even

today. The church, one of the more dominant social institutions in 12th century Europe, saw a shift in their power and influence on society as a result of the Black Plague. In order to rationalize the immense death and suffering of all society the people looked towards a revival of mysticism centring on the figure of the Virgin Mary. The justification for the deaths given by the Catholic Church were rejected by society and in the shadow of their suffering and loss many began to experiment with other spiritual expressions. The high occurrence of death led understandably to an obsession with the transcendal elements of death and the afterlife. This shift in the nature of societies religious thoughts and practices is shown through many artefacts of the time. The relinquishing of

power by the church saw a change in the basis of most people s lives and consequently their social culture. It sent them looking beyond this powerful institution for answers to the many great questions of life. However not all people were satisfied with these often whimsical mystic justifications and many looked for a tangible explanation. Some, in an attempt to fill the void of inexplicability, blamed and persecuted the Jews for the desperate situation facing their previously thriving and prosperous society. Other people banded the flagellants, wandered Europe doing penance in public, punishing themselves to atone for the evils of the world. Similarly a series of Plague saints emerged along with new religious brotherhoods and shrines dedicated to protecting the populace from the

evils of the plague. These religious changes within the society where inevitable. Many societies have undergone similar changes in the aftermath of horrific historical events. For a society to have such experiences with out searching for justifiable explanations would defy the nature of all humanity. The severe changes caused by the Plague in religious outlook were reflected in the contemporary and renaissance art of the period which also experienced the revival of mysticism. In undergoing these changes art lost much of its previous unity with other cultural mediums. It took on a far more contemplative and confrontational role within society reflecting the general psyche of the people. The effects of the Plague had a major impact on the style and iconography of visual art. It was