Understanding the Black Death Lesson Plan Central Historical Question: How did people in the 14 th century understand the Black Death? Document A: University of Paris Medical Report (Modified) The passage below is an excerpt from “The Report of the Paris Medical Faculty,” issued in October 1348. In the report, medical faculty at the University of Paris describe what they believed were the origins of the bubonic plague and provide advice on how to avoid contracting the plague. We, the Members of the College of Physicians of Paris, . . . intend to make known the causes of this plague. We declare as follows: It is known that in India, and the area of the Great Sea, the constellations which combated the rays of the sun . . . exerted their power especially against the sea, . . . and the waters of the ocean arose in the form of vapor. The waters were in some parts so corrupted that the fish died. This vapor spread itself through the air in many places on earth. . . . On all the islands and adjoining countries to which the corrupted sea-wind extends, . . . if the inhabitants of those parts do not take the following advice we announce to them inevitable death — except if the grace of Christ preserve their lives. Every one of you should protect himself from the air; wormwood and chamomile should be burnt in great quantity in the market places and in the houses. . . . Cold, moist, watery food is in general harmful. Going out at night, and even until three o’clock in the morning, is dangerous on account of the dew. . . . Fasting is injurious and so is anxiety of mind, anger, and
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