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The Plague DBQ

The Plague DBQ


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Published by shannon
It got a seven out of nine on the AP scale. This DBQ is fairly easy to find on the internet. There are sites with full example essays and others that just block out an essay for the same question.
It got a seven out of nine on the AP scale. This DBQ is fairly easy to find on the internet. There are sites with full example essays and others that just block out an essay for the same question.

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Published by: shannon on Jan 16, 2010
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The plague, or the Black Death, was. All classes were affected in some way.

The nobles, who had the money and means to do so, fled their cities when the plague arrived. Areas of towns and cities, as well as ships, were quarantined, a word that originally came from the Venetian word meaning 40 days isolation, in an effort to stop the plague. It was not completely successful. The plague raged throughout Europe from the early 15th century to the beginning of the 18th century. Many people during this time (the fifteenth to the eighteenth century) were superstitious, so various attempts were used to try to combat the plague, while travelers and scholars were content to observe the plague both at in their native country and in other parts of Europe. The people of Europe during the time of the plague were very superstitious. Some physicians believed that the plague was due to God’s wrath (Bertrand, document 6) or to the spreading of diseased ointment across a city’s gates (Weyer, document 4). On the other hand, people in that time believed in false cures as well as false causes. Some physicians, such as H. de Rochas, advised victims of the plague to wear toads around their necks in the belief that the plague’s “poison” would be transferred from the victim to the toad (H. de Rochas/document 10). However, one must take into account the biases of the Weyer, Bertrand, and Rochas. Physicians at the time of the plague had no sure cure or vaccination. They would not want to betray their inability to do anything as no one would hire a useless doctor. Thus they blamed the plague on things that few, if any, people understood. This way, they could pretend to understand it and remain employed. Physicians were not the only people to use or believe superstitions or myths at the time of the plague. From the 15th to the 18th century, Europeans tried various ways to combat the plague. Priests were called to care for the sick and manage “pest houses”, as in Father Dragoni’s case (Letter to the health Magistracy, document 9). Some cities used nurses, who were also in high demand (Miguel Parets/ document 11). Although, according to Miguel Parets, a tanner, they were not very helpful, often killing their “patients” just to get their promised pay. Miguel’s testimony is reliable as he was a tanner and represents the larger class of his society, working people who need every penny. Because of this, he would have better understood the nurses’ motivation as they belong to the same class as him. Travelers, though they did not directly try to combat the plague, saw many different ways of combating it throughout their travels, from which the native people’s reaction to the plague can be seen, nor were they necessarily afraid of catching the plague. Heinrich von Staden (The Land and Government o f Muscovy, document 5) said that a home with an infected person was quarantined as soon as possible, and if someone died inside the house, they had to be buried there as well. In this is seen Muscovy’s intense fear of the plague. The fact that no one was allowed out of an infected house, even if they died, shows that they feared that the plague was still contagious even if its host was dead. Sir John Reresby, an

Englishmen, obviously did not share this fear with the Muscovy people (Reresby, document 12). Right before departing, he heard that his destination, Rome, had been seized by the plague. All but he and 3 other travelers decided against continuing their travel to Rome. In these four people’s decision to continue their journey can be seen the fact that not everyone in Europe from the 15th century to the 18th century feared the plague beyond reason. His testimony is fairly reliable as well, seeing as it is from his own personal memoirs rather than a publication; he had no one to impress, so the likelihood of the account being exaggerated is slim. Scholars too had little reason to exaggerate. Scholars were thinkers, researchers, observers, and teachers in the time of the plague. For the most part, they impressed people with the knowledge they possessed and their use, not exaggeration, of it. Machiavelli, for example, wanted to impress the Medici and regain favor. Consequently, he wrote a book of advice on how to be an excellent ruler. He did not flatter the Medici themselves or exaggerate his information in any way, but he used his knowledge of politics and classic Grecoroman literature instead. Thus Desiderius Erasmus, who wrote one of his most important works within ten years of Machiavelli’s The Prince, in all likelihood, did not exaggerate in his description of the poor condition of England’s streets which he believed to be the cause of the plague’s persistence in England (Erasmus/document 2). Nicolas Versoris also made the connection between poor living conditions and high death rates (Nicolas Versoris/document 3). And, due to the title of his book in which this idea is found, Book of Reason, his testimony is reliable as an unreasonable idea/connection in a book that contains the word “reason” in its title would be seen as hypocritical and would not do any good for the author. In conclusion, physicians were as superstitious about the plague as any social class between the 15th century and the 18th century, and as such many different things were tried in an attempt combat the plague, and scholars and travelers were the most sensible about the plague. The physicians are the most biased source whereas the working class and scholars are relatively honest and exhibit minimal bias.

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