The Middle Ages were a time of strong religious convictions. During the plague, that changed. Religion was changed forever, because the people began to doubt what they had believed. One of the most notable changes can be seen in Judism. But to discuss this aspect of the plague, you must first know a precursor to what happened. A group of people began to discuss the Church's role in the plague. This group was called the Flaggelents. The Flaggelents carried around sticks, called scourges, that were wooden with 3-4 leather strips at the end. Each leather strip was topped with a long, sharp iron spikes. They would gather in the center of towns, gather a crowd around them, and would profess that God was very angry with the people of Earth. The Flaggelents would then beat themselves with the sticks, and claim that they were ridding the people of their sins, in order to get rid of the plague. Although this did nothing but draw crowds, one thing the Flaggelents said did cause some problems: The Flaggelents spread the word that Jews had infected the cities' well water. This theory caught on because the Jews did not drink from city wells. Jewish kosher laws prohibited the Jews from drinking from public facilities--they had to go to country springs to get their water. Of course, the people of Europe at that time were looking for outlets in which to blame the plague, so the idea caught on. In September of 1348, 11 Jews were charged with contaminating a city well in a small German town. They were mercilessly tortured until they finally falsely confessed. This led to the killing of Jews all over Europe. Some groups of Jews were herded into barns and burned alive, while others were captured one by one and burned at the stake in the center of town. There is an actual confession of a Jew posted on the internet.

People began to abandon all forms of religion. The Catholic Church had very few loyal followers. Churches all over Europe began to disappear, and there was a definate decrease in moral standards.

Please also see how religion was used in trying to explain the Black Death on the start page of this site.

See also:
Jewish America--a time line of the Black Plague
Flaggelents--discusses the role of Flaggelents in the religious revolution against the plague.

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