Between the years 300 and 1750 CE, people around the world had begun to formulate beliefs about and responses to the Bubonic plague and similar epidemic diseases; the beliefs were generally cultural (related to their religion or traditional medicinal beliefs) or political (what the government or leadership believed); and the reactions were generally cultural (related to their religion or medicinal practices) or social (related to their status or job).
Documents 2, 3, 4, and 5 can be used to show the beliefs that people had about the Bubonic Plague. This can be shown in their religious beliefs, traditional medical beliefs, or what the government believed about the nature of the disease. Ho Kung, a Chinese doctor, (doc. 2) believed that a mixture of mallows and garlic would stop the epidemic. Ho’s point of view is based on the traditional use of plants in Chinese medicine that were useful in fighting other problems. The Medical Faculty in Paris (doc 3) believed that the disease was spread by contact. By 1350, the medical community had some experience with the disease and could come up with a consensus report. From the Chronicles of Japan (doc 4) it was believed that the illness was a punishment for believing in Buddha, but when Buddhist temples were burned and the emperor became ill, then many Japanese felt that was punishment for destroying the temples. The point of view of the groups changed to fit the current situation. John, a Byzantine Bishop (doc 5) wrote a history of the epidemic of 541-543 in which he believed that God was punishing the people. His intent (point of view) was to give future generations a view of how devastating the illness was so that they would not invoke God’s wrath. An additional document from a Catholic priests point of view would be helpful, because the beliefs of the church that the plague was punishment from God was a problem in determining a cure or a way to stop transmission.
Documents 1, 6, 7, 8, and 9 can be used to show the responses to the Plague. Al-Razi, a Persian doctor in 900 CE (doc 1), already had a good idea of the symptoms and transmission of the plague. Razi’s views, however, ran counter to Christian thought in other lands and was not readily adopted by Christians. Ibn Battuta, a Moroccan judge, (doc 6) witnessed the plague in Damascus. The political response to the epidemic was to order the people to fast for