Rosemary Horrox
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Part two: Explanations and responses
in The Black Death
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This section introduction presents an overview of contempory explainations for and responses to the plague. All contemporary commentators were agreed that the plague was an act of God, sent to punish mankind for its sinfulness and to frighten it into repentance and future good behaviour. Medical treatises, like public health regulations, at least gave the illusion that the plague could be controlled; but the overwhelming reaction of most people to the plague must have been one of helplessness. Perhaps that helps to explain contemporary claims that the plague had been caused by human agency. The plague seemed to many contemporaries to be the first act of an apocalyptic drama which would see the rule of Antichrist on earth, and finally the coming of Christ to judge the world. The Jews had a central role in that drama, as the enemies of Christ who must be converted, or murdered, before Christ would come in glory.

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