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The passage below is an excerpt from Ibn al-Wardi’s “An Essay on the Reportof the Pestilence.” Ibn al-Wardi was an Arab writer, philosopher, and historian who was alive in the Middle East during the plague. Here, he describes the effects of the plague on the city of Allepo in Syria. In 1349, al-Wardi died fromthe plague.The plague began in the land of darkness. China was not preserved from it.The plague infected the Indians in India, the Sind, the Persians, and the Crimea. The plague destroyed mankind in Cairo. It stilled all movement in Alexandria.Then, the plague turned to Upper Egypt. The plague attacked Gaza, trapped Sidon, and Beirut. Next, it directed its shooting arrows to Damascus. There the plague sat like a lion on a throne and swayed with power, killing daily one thousand or more and destroying the population.Oh God, it is acting by Your command. Lift this from us. It happens where You wish; keep the plague from us.The plague caused the people of Aleppo the same disturbance. Oh, if you could see the nobles of Aleppo studying their books of medicine. They follow its remedies by eating dried and sour foods. The buboes which disturb men’s lives are smeared with Armenian clay. Each man treated their health to make life more comfortable. They perfumed their homes withcamphor, flowers, and sandal. They wore ruby rings and put onions, vinegar, and sardines together with the daily meal.We ask God’s forgiveness for our bad souls; the plague is surely part of Hispunishment. Some said: the air’s corruption kills. I said: the love of corruption kills.Source: Ibn al-Wardi, “An Essay on the Report of the Pestilence,” 1348.
Vocabularycamphor: a fragrant wax sandal: a fragrant wood
How did people in the 14th Century understand the Black Death?