Month: February 2009





12th Century Templar Knight


On the, third of July 1187, the armies of Christian and Islamic forces clashed in a battle called, Hattin. What really happened? Who, eventually won is the focus of our concern? The previous questions are answered in the premises for war and the strategic plan of the Emir Saladin. Saladin (1137-93) was the leader of the Islamic cause in 1187. He was not of noble blood but he was a great warrior and a leader of the Jihad. To continue “Reynald of Chatillon”, who had been considered a brutal man for is attack on Cyprus, siege of Medina and the brutal killings of a Muslim caravan that was traveling to Mecca in 1187 had caused Saladin to express extreme hatred towards this man. This caravan had signed a truce with the King of Tripoli for save haven to the passage of  Mecca. In, 1187 Saladin had devised a strategy to defeat the ‘Franks.  

          The army of Saladin would lay siege to the Christian cities. He believed that he could lure the Frankish army out of Jerusalem and into the arid dessert. In 1187, the town of Tiberius is siege. Raymond count of Tripoli wife is inside the city.  Even though it was his own wife trapped in the city, he had tried to convince the King, not to march to Tiberius because of the many downfalls of sending an army to fight in the region.

    During the night the Christian King decided to take the advice of the 

Master templar, Gerard of Ridefort to attack Saladin. The Frankish army departed for Tiberius with very low water supplies and the temperatures also reached 110 degrees. The forces of Saladin were well rested and they, also had planned on cutting of the water routes. Time and again the Muslims’ mounted archers fired, wheeled and turned away to safety taking a grievous toll on the Christian infantry.  At night- fall the Christian camped exhausted by the heat and lacking water. Beha ad-Din summarized: They were closely beset as in a noose, while still marching on as though being driven to a death, that they could see before them, convinced of their doom and destruction and themselves  

aware that the following day they would be visiting their graves’ (Beha ad-Din, tr. Richards, 2001:73). The crusades then tried to make a break for the lake about ten miles away. The Muslim set fire to the ground. frustrated the Christian army, tried to make a rash decision and mount an all out attack due to confusion. The plan worked to perfection and the Muslim moved in for the kill: Phillips, 2002:135). 

     The battle was able to subdue the power of the Templar Knights in the ‘Levant. They were considered the most brutal and cruel of the Christians soldiers in the Levant. However, it made the crusades more aware of battle tactics in the Levant. 

     In, conclusion the battle of Hattin did not have to happen. A very 

important key that many historians tend to overlook is that King Henry the second had offered generous financial support to the Franks, in part as penance for the murder of Thomas Beckett. This money was sometimes not used for war and stolen by Guy of Lusignan, and Gerard of Ridefort who was the master of the templar. In fact when they  

secretly agreed to change tactics and march on Saladin, they may have felt the pressure to produce some positive results or forfeit the generous grants of King Henry.


Courtney Duncan






Escheat is a term that as its roots from feudal England. In feudal England, escheat was a privilege exclusively given to the king. Escheat is described as; the policy of inheritance to preserve the wealth of noble families by permitting one individual to inherit an entire estate. There was no writing of wills that would leave property to several heirs because that would have the effect of breaking up the estate. If there was no living person of a designated class to inherit, the king took the property by escheat. In the 1830s a form of escheat was taking place at Prince Edward Island. In this grassroots movement, rural tenants challenged landlord claims to large parts of the colony.[1](Gleason & Perry 2006) After acquiring Prince Edward Island (Ile St. Jean) from the French, Britain made large grants to the colony that were conditional on bringing in settlers and paying quit rents to the Crown. The legitimacy of property claims based on these grants soon came into question as grantees failed to fulfill the conditions to which they had agreed.  At the same time, settlers began to assert alternative property claims to Island lands based on their work on the lands that they occupied.  The tension between these rival property claims and struggles between rival claimants was central to the history of Prince Edward Island. By the late 1830s, supporters of the movement achieved control of the Island House of Assembly. From a study of this subject-I have come to realize that the women of Prince Edward Island played a significant role in this movement. 

          Women also played a significant role in political structure in other parts of the dominion. In Lower Canada, the author Bettina Bradbury establishes a Whig view of women’s political history–which is the idea of a gradual but steady improvement in women’s history.[2](Gleason & Perry 2006)  Bradbury shows us that they were women who cared about politics, many of them hails from families where politics ran in the blood.[3](Gleason & Perry 2006)  This paper compares the arguments made by the authors Rusty Bitterman and Bettina Bradbury. Our conclusion will give evidence to the elite woman playing a more important role in the evolution of women’s political factions.  

           In the article titled “Women and the Escheat Movement: The Politics of Everyday Life on Prince Edward Island.” The author Bitterman implicates that the tenants were fighting a form of “Old World” feudal land grants.  The writer of this journal believes that a hierarchal order was established on Prince Edward Island. Historian will tell you that the general population of this Island hated the British system. These families whether they were French, Irish or lower caste English-they had come to the New World for a better way of life. Bitterman believes that it was a natural occurrence for the settlers male and female to unite both sexes in their resistance to authority, whether male, as is the case with the law officers mentioned here, or female as was the landlord, Flora Townshend.[4](Gleason & Perry 2006)  Furthermore, the author hints that the original settlers to this island were relatively poor. They had come to the New World to get away from Whig Oligarchy-this oligarchy where the ruling powers belongs to a few persons. These descendants of the third estates were of lower class English, Irish and Scottish descent. These people had suffered through centuries of elite rule in Europe. There forefathers had encountered enclosure which was peasant eviction from the lands for a much lucrative business-such as sheep run.[5](Smith 2001) The writer Bitterman states that the escheat movement had special relevance for women, particularly since it had a direct impact on their ability to care for their families.[6](Gleason & Perry 2006)  It is thus not a common occurrence to find women taking part in rural politics. These women believe that they were fighting for their human rights against a common enemy. This enemy was the English crown-they believed that the crown was once again infringing on their rights to own land and property.

       It was not only enclosure that united the sexes to fight in the eighteenth and nineteenth century. The Island was a population of French, Scottish and Irish working class peoples. These groups of people fought for freedom in the English rebellion of 1649 and the French revolution of 1789. Moreover, the Irish had faced enclosure and the plantation system engineered by the Tudors beginning in the fifteenth century. It was human nature to fight the oppressor-which in this case was a British colonial government that was across the Atlantic Ocean.

        In the article titled, Women at the Hustings: Gender, Citizenship, and the Montreal By-Elections of 1832. The author Bettina Bradbury gives a different view of the politic situation and the absorption of women in politics.  Bradbury believes the history of women in politics is merely a Whig view of history. Bettina Bradbury believes that the women’s political movement evolved in other parts of the dominion.  From here journals you get the indication that the liberated woman in the Victorian era was a woman of elite status or financial wealth. In Bradbury’s article she states that in Lower Canada women could vote if they owned or rented property of the required value in their own name.[7](Gleason & Perry 2006) She also states that 14% of the women in Lower Canada exercised their right to do so.  Bradbury admits that they were likely to have votes contested and disqualified but many were successful.  The writer Bradbury believes that this was a privilege inherited from a woman’s high birthright.

          The right to vote and to take part in protest is one thing-but the question of equality between the sexes in 1830s British North America is an important issue. Bought of the writers agree that women were in some degree equal to men. Moreover, this equality had an intricate caste system that was supported by the church and to some degree the strongest political factions. On page 79 of our text Bradbury states that Quebec was secure with women intellectual equality with men. In this article the writer states that to vote was not a natural right of either men or women, but was based on their qualifications.[8](Gleason & Perry 2006) A petition was reproduced approvingly in an article in La Minerve, which argued that widows with the proper qualifications were in all ways equal to men[9](Gleason & Perry 2006)  What is important to remember is that this freedom was not given to the poor woman in lower Canada. Furthermore, in the article written by Rusty Bitterman, she believes that the escheat movement is more a rebellion than a political committee. The actions of the men and women of Prince Edward Island, level on brutality. A prime example of this is the maiming of the horses.[10](Gleason & Perry 2006)  The women of the communities of Prince Edward Island would retaliate by maiming and killing animals in a dispute. I believe that bought authors would agree that in Prince Edward Island it was not the ambitions of the few elitist women to tackle the political scene. Furthermore, the practices of the settlers although organized in nature-these gatherings are very much opposite from the political polls of Upper and Lower Canada. Thus the position of the upper class woman in Prince Edward Island, is secondary to her husband but above the working class farmer. In Lower Canada the order is reversed-it is the lower class woman because of her economic situation who is given no political freedom by her husband and the system. Therefore the writers agree on women’s freedom to vote and take part in political movements is related to manpower and the situation.

          Going back in time to the British rebellion of 1649-women played an intricate part in that they hide enemies of the absolutist monarch and they also did their part delivering pamphlets and funding various campaigns. When the enemy was defeated woman once again played a second fiddle. This was the case in Lower Canada and Prince Edward Island. In Prince Edward Island it was the Catholic Church who urged laborers and farmers to subordinate the woman. The church believed that the woman realm was in the home.

       A similar subordination occurred in Lower Canada-where the governing delegates would highlight the votes of women. The genius behind this subordination was Louis-Joseph Papineau. {Papineau} was the leader of the {Parti Patriote} 1827-37.  Papineau believed that too many women were voting for the opponent, who at times was willing to concede the right of the elite woman for their financial funding, In exchange for ethical treatment and equality of the sexes-the elite woman provided financial support and any form of aid to whichever parties would support the woman’s cause.

          This article raises a very important question on page 85.  Why did woman’s vote become so visible in 1832? Moreover, in 1834 Papineau’s political party attempted to remove women’s right to vote in 1834. In 1849, when the new bill to remove women’s right to vote passed so quietly, the political and cultural context had changed. In the wake of the rebellions of 1837 and 1838 the Catholic Church gained a new hegemony over institutions and Catholic citizens.[11]   The authors Bitterman and Bradbury bought agree that in the region of Prince Edward Island and Lower Canada. The church was instrumental in the subordination of women. The period of 1830s shows a promotion or nationalism for these women to have many babies and to take part in projects as nursing, teaching and homemaking. This is the common answer to the subordination of women.

        In conclusion the writers agree on some views they also disagree on ideology based on heritage.  Bettina Bradbury is a scholarly woman with a degree PHD from Concordia. She is a member of the exclusive Montreal Historical society which is founded at Mc. Gill University. Dr. Bradbury is now a professor at York University. She is chairperson for the women’s study department at York. Dr. Bradbury teaching evolves along the line of higher education for women and a hierarchal society. She clearly believes that in women’s study it is the educated and the elitist woman who should be given credit for the success of the women’s movement in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.

       On the contrary Rusty Bitterman is an artist, writer and scholar of sorts from the East coast. Rusty writes about native peoples and the struggles of the liberal faction in the East coast. This is clearly the opposite view to Bettina Bradbury. Finally I would have enjoyed Rusty Bitterman article much more if she would have researched the plight of black women and native women in this period. The article titled, ‘Women at the Hustings: gender, Citizenship, and the Montreal By-Elections of 1832.  This article gave some perception of native women taking in leadership roles within their respective communities.

     The article’s gives you a clear understanding of the economical and political situations of these regions. It is ironic that these areas still are characterized elite commercial and underdeveloped rural.      

              Courtney Duncan

[1] In the 1830s a form of escheat was taking place at Prince Edward Island. In this grassroots movement, rural tenants challenged landlord claims to large parts of the colony

[2]The idea of a gradual but steady improvement in women’s history.[2]

[3] Bradbury shows us that they were women who cared about politics, many of them hailing from families where politics ran in the blood

[4] The author indirectly hints at a hierarchal order established on Prince Edward Island.  Moreover, we learn from Bitterman, following in the tradition of Europe and Great Britain’s laboring poor in defending themselves and their families against the claims of the powerful.[4]


[5] There forefathers had encountered had encountered enclosure which was peasant eviction from the lands for a much lucrative business-such as sheep run. [5]

[6] The writer Bitterman states that this movement had special relevance for women, particularly since it had a direct impact on their ability to care for their families.[6]

[7] She states that Lower Canada women could vote if they owned or rented property of the required value in their own name.[7]           


[8] Quebec was secure with women intellectual equality with men. It argued that to vote was not a natural right of either men or women, but was based on their qualifications

[9] The petition was reproduced approvingly in an article in La Minerve, which argued that widows with the proper qualifications were in all ways equal to men[9]         


[10] A prime example of this is the maiming of the horses.[10] 


[11] Why did woman’s vote become so visible in 1832? Moreover, in 1834 Papineau’s political party attempted to remove women’s right to vote in 1834. In 1849, when the new bill to remove women’s right to vote passed so quietly, the political and cultural context had changed. In the wake of the rebellions of 1837 and 1838 the Catholic Church gained a new hegemony over institutions and Catholic citizens.[11]    



Falconry is an integral part of desert life which has been practiced in the UAE for centuries. Originally, falcons were used for hunting, to supplement the Bedouin diet with some meat, such as hare or houbara. Both Sheikh Zayed and Sheikh Mohammed have shown great concern and support for this important part of the UAE’s cultural heritage.

In the time before the UAE was formed, and before the discovery of oil allowed the development of roads and communication systems, hunting expeditions were also frequently used as a way for the tribal sheikhs to ‘tour’their territory and keep in touch with the latest developments in areas which were otherwise incommunicado. The sheikh would hunt during the day, then a desert majlis would be held around the campfire in the evenings, when the Bedouin would come to pay their respects and raise with him any matters of concern.

Nowadays, falconry is practiced purely for sport. The main prey for falcons in the UAE are MacQueen’s bustard, houbara, or hare. There is now a very successful captive breeding programme in the UAE for houbara, ensuring that this popular sport does not eliminate this species.

The two main species of falcon kept in the UAE are the saker and the peregrine. The trapping and training of falcons requires skill, patience and a considerable amount of bravery. The potential danger, of course, is part of the attraction, as is the opportunity to have a close-up view of the power, grace and beauty of a falcon in flight.

In his autobiography, “Arabian Destiny”, Edward Henderson gives a fascinating eyewitness account of the old method of acquiring a new falcon (these days they are more commonly bought than captured).

I have seen a falcon catcher at work, near Dubai. He makes a deep hole in the sand, covered with branches, and in this he hides. String, some hundred yards long, is run out

through steel loops set in the sand in the shape of a rather open ‘L’. At the corner a net is set across the angle, lying flat on the sand in such a way that, when the string is pulled, it swings upwards and over to come down on the sand within the L-shape. At this point there is a loop in the sand and another string. One end of this string goes to the catcher in his hole, and at the other is a pigeon secured by a leg. The catcher, when he sees a falcon, lets the pigeon go a little way and it flies trailing the string. The falcon takes a good look and if the catcher is well concealed, will stoop at the pigeon, which the catcher pulls back to the hoop. As the falcon seizes the pigeon and digs his beak into it, the catcher pulls it home to the ring and releases the net, which springs up and over the falcon and pigeon together. The catcher then comes up out of the hole and walks across to sort it all out.1

Once a falcon is acquired, the falconer sets about taming and training it. A leather hood is used to cover the falcon’s eyes and the bird is deprived of food in order to make it easier to tame. In the first few weeks, the falconer remains with the falcon all the time to establish as close a relationship as possible with the bird. The bird is restrained by tethers around its ankles. During the day the bird perches on the falconer’s leather sleeve while the falconer holds the tethers, and is always kept near the lure – a bundle of feathers. By night, the tethers are attached by a shorter cord to a swivel on a small mushroom-shaped wooden perch on a stake in the sand. This allows the falcon a certain freedom of movement, whilst ensuring that it cannot escape. The falconer names the bird and constantly calls to it so that it comes to recognise his voice from great distances.

Initial training consists of removing the hood and allowing the bird to move from the perch to the falconer’s hand, whilst held by its leg restraints. Eventually the bird will begin to make short flights. The falconer will take the lure and some raw meat around 100 yards away from the bird and one of his associates will remove the bird’s hood, whilst the falconer calls the bird’s name and swings the lure. The bird flies over and catches the lure, whereupon the falconer rewards it with some meat.

Later still, the training will incorporate live prey, such as a tethered pigeon, which the falcon will be allowed to swoop at before the falconer lures it away with meat. This part of the training is very important for Islamic hunters as it teaches the falcon not to kill its prey immediately. In order for the hunters to be able to eat the prey in accordance with their beliefs, it must still be alive when its throat is cut and blood is drawn. Once properly trained, a falcon will hold a captured bustard for quite some time without killing it, although the hunters must reward it immediately with food for doing so.

In February 2003, one of the most remarkable events in the recorded history of falconry took place when a falcon owned by Sheikh Mohammed brought down a deer many times its own weight.

The hunt was a long and arduous one. When the falcon finally captured the deer, it is reported to have lifted it several times. This is thought to be the first time that a falcon has taken a deer.
In modern times, falconry in the UAE has incorporated new technology that benefits birds and owners alike. Falconry is strictly controlled by both federal and local emirate laws, to ensure proper treatment of the birds. Only a few decades ago, the most successful falcons would be kept in captivity for several years, although the hunting season only ran through the winter months. Nowadays, under the direction of the Environmental Research and Wildlife Development Agency (ERWDA), the Sheikh Zayed Falcon Release Project is responsible for returning falcons to the wild at the end of the annual hunting season. The project was initiated as a result of Sheikh Zayed’s desire that the falcons he used for hunting every year should not become completely domesticated, but should continue to live in their natural state. The selected birds are placed in isolation at the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital, where they are given full medical check-ups to ensure that only completely healthy birds enter the wild population.

Each bird has a microchip inserted beneath its skin, as an aid to future identification, and anumbered ring fitted on its leg, as part of the Emirates Bird Ringing Scheme. The falcons are then put through a rigorous exercise programme, to ensure that they are released in peak condition. They receive extra food to increase their weight and their chances of survival in their first weeks back in the wild. The birds are then transported from the UAE to an area along the migratory routes of other falcons, where they are released.

This project also incorporates the latest technology in order to provide scientists with data regarding migratory patterns. Some of the falcons are fitted with miniature satellite transmitters so that their movements can be tracked.

The respect of the people of the Emirates for their country’s heritage, and the support offered by Sheikh Zayed and Sheikh Mohammed, means falconry has not only survived the process of modernisation which the country has undergone, but has prospered.

When I was a younger man, I remember the panic and understood the threat of the epidemic known as AIDS. Initially the virus only threatened the lives of homosexuals but it soon spread to the heterosexual community. The world witnessed a cultural change that epitomized a more traditional lifestyle, when AIDS moved into the heterosexual community. The disease was blamed on the homosexual community and many other groups such as people from Haiti and Africa. The devastation of AIDS is now being written by historians and other scholars. These scholars are now comparing the epidemic to another disease known as the Black Death which occurred in the fourteenth century.

“The Black Death” is familiar terminology for a disease that appeared in a century of calamity. “Within this period we can research, war, famine, disease, economic decay, political chaos and spiritual crisis and resulting social unrest which dogged the whole century.”{Backman, 2003; pg.369} The Black Death in thirteen-forty-eight is arguably the greatest catastrophe that had triggered events to end the dark ages. “The great plague arrived in Latin Europe-first appearing in Messina, Sicily-in November of thirteen-forty-eight, struck Marseilles, in southern France, early in thirteen-forty-eight and from their, it spread throughout the continent.”{ibid…pg. 375} Historians will tell you that it is difficult to calculate the precise number of casualties, but most agree that approximately one-third of the population in Europe succumbed to this disease. The number is staggering but you as a scholar have to imagine a malnourished population living in squalid conditions without the sanitation practices of our present era. The bubonic plague of thirteen-forty-seven created dramatic structural changes in European society. These changes are evident in the economy, politics, church and culture. This paper is written to analyze and determine if the bubonic plague had an over all impact on European society. I will prove that changes occurred due to feudalism and the secular power structure. I will not be investigating all of Europe. Although the essay touches upon Europe my research on the bubonic plague narrows its focus upon the state of England.

The Black Death reached England in the summer of thirteen forty eight. In this period England had experienced heavy rains. The harvest was completely destroyed. England’s population was dealt a blow of enormous force with the loss of life on a scale that has not since been experienced. {Ormond & Backman, 1996. pg 28} The consequence of the plague had a lasting impact on the economy of England. The plague attacked anyone and anything. The rich man died from the plague, peasant girl, tavern hoar, priest and noble. The plague even killed drought-animals used to till the fields and dairy cows. As dairy was a staple in the peasant diet its importance cannot be ignored. The economic disaster was felt most in the production of wheat which was used for bread and barley which produced ale. The ale was most common amongst the poor people because it was cheap and it could be kept for awhile before it went bad.

The production of wool declined when the disease attacked the sheep. “The emptying of villages and district meant the ruin of vineyards.” {Backman, 2003. pg 377} Wine was considered the drink of the rich and the most noble. It was also one of the most productive trades of the Southern European countries and the region of Southern France. With the decline in the serf and peasant population the liege lords and rich merchants could not find anyone to make them huge profits. The only solution was to increase the wages of the working class which increased the standard of living for the peasant folk.

The bubonic plague also changed the physical structure of the economy in that the farm lands were now given over to pasturing, which was less (sic) labor intensive. The business of pasturing supplemented the lost income from agricultural products such as wheat and vegetables. These pastures were turned into sheep runs which did boost the cloth and wool industries. The land which was turned into sheep runs would also in the future become a crisis for poor tenants in the early eighteen-hundreds that faced eviction from land owners who wanted higher profit from the sheep runs. The physical structure of the economy was affected by the increased mobility people begun to have. Long gone were the days of a peasant or serf who was tied to the land by contractual or hereditary duties to a feudal lord. Because of the plague many of these indentured serfs would just run away in fear of catching the disease. Moreover it would sometimes take the lives of an entire farming community so they had nobody to enforce these manorial laws when they left the fief.

The greatest change to the economy was the loss of skilled artisans and capable men who could read or write. The plague took the lives of many of these skilled and educated people. The immediate change was the regression of architectural structures. The buildings became very simple and the expansion of new monuments and castles were put on hold until the period of the renaissance. Furthermore, the church suffered the highest losses because they always took in sick people to save the souls. When the bishops and various ecclesiastical members died many universities were closed or became extinct. This provided a loss of revenue for the church and university towns that provided high rents and other fees. The solution for the loss of skilled laborers and scholars was to advertise all across Europe. These skilled men included butchers, University professors, tanners, horseshoe fitters, bishops and paid soldiers. I believe that the great loss in the plague increased the amount of mercenaries and paid soldiers across Europe. With the loss of lives the Kings of Europe had to recruit outside of the country. The plague also brought many foreigners in to new territories looking for work. Wherever the skill was needed the opportunity was available for this laborer. Moreover, some areas may have seen a decline in the wool production and some may have seen an increase because the disease may not have attacked certain animals in various areas. Therefore northern England may have needed one-thousand shear croppers and Southern France may have only needed one-hundred. The final analysis is that urban workers generally profited from the plague (while rural farmers farmer’s remained stuck in poverty. {Backman, 2003, pg 378}

Another change is the shift of workers from rural farms to migrate to the city in search of work. With the coming of unskilled workers to the city the skilled artisans then demanded more money. For example a man could be trained as a carpenter but with the death of the designers he now becomes the architect and therefore demanding more money. This increase in wages also developed new trade unions and it also indirectly created other avenues besides the church for political leadership or education.

The political entity or make-up of many European states was The Crown, Nobility and the church. By the ending of the “Bubonic Plague” the governments had inherited an intricate problem. The economy was totally ruined. The peasant could now demand or control the rent they paid. The royal governments had tried to increase the tax because of the higher wages of the urban workers. The poor and the urban workers had now believed they were singled out to finance recovery. Moreover many governments tried to issue wage controls and freezing prices for manufactured goods. What we must remember is that manufacturing of goods was always controlled by the bourgeoisie and with the loss of drought animals and labourers to harvest the crops. The nobility very quickly realized that this rising middle class would become much wealthier than they had planned. The only solution was to impose their traditional privileges over the rural classes. In England the landlords joined with the merchants. They created the statute of labourer’s in thirteen-fifty-one; this statute froze rents and wages. This did not go well with the lower class. Later on Parliament ordered a series of poll taxes in the thirteen seventies, which hurt the peasants again. The tax took more than ten percent of annual wage of each person living and working in a household. Because of these taxes caused by the burden of the plague. The peasant revolts, war and wage freeze became a normal thing in the mid thirteen-fifties and onwards. To continue in the peasant of revolt thirteen sixty-one Simon Sudbury was murdered. More important he was the arch bishop of Canterbury and he was not killed by a King, he was murdered by a peasant mob. This was a political crisis, because if they could kill the arch bishop they could kill the King in the name of political change.

The cause of these political uprisings in England and across Europe could be tied into the depopulation of Europe, which had now created opportunities for the poor to rise and nurture stronger political doctrines. In later years the peasants and working artisans aligned themselves with a political group that took the name or title of ministers of the common people or the House of Commons. This new connection with politics and the peasants had diminished the value of the church to influence or control the peasant folk.

The Church in earlier medieval period had ruled the continent with the anointed lords. With the coming of the plague the church was put into a position where they needed to provide spiritual answers and miracles. They could not provide cures; they could only put blame on other religious groups. The most common religious groups to blame was the, Muslims and more important to this manuscripts the Jewish community. The Jewish people had migrated to areas like Spain, France and England beginning in the sixth century. In the period of the plague according to the Church, the Black Death was God’s punishment for the sinfulness of humanity. They also believed that the Jewish people with the help of the rabbi’s had somehow put this curse on Europe. It seemed because the Jewish community was more hygienic they did not suffer a greater loss as the Christian population. The result was widespread prosecution, theft of properties and murder of the Jewish people in the name of religion. The church had promised cures but more people died. Many of the clergy fled for their lives because the villagers began to start revolts against the church, when they realized that it was a deeper problem than the Jewish nation cursing Europe. In England more than forty percent of the clergy died in the period from thirteen-forty-eight to thirteen-fifty-one. This directly led to the decline of church power and the breeding ground for new religious heresies in the name of God.

The most famous of these was the Flagellants and the Lollards. The Lollards stated that the Catholic Church had been corrupted by temporal matters and that its claim to be the true church was not justified by its heredity. Moreover the Lollards and other common believed it was time for change because the Catholic religion was not the true house of God. In the fourteenth century so many people wanted religious change and these new radical groups provided the change. The monastic orders had promised to send the disease back to hell and this was not happening. In the revolts against the Holy Roman Empire new heresy like Lollardy paved the way.

The Flagellants were not in England but they travelled throughout Europe and initially they were in favour with the church. The Flagellants would inflict pain on the body and some other form of torture. This was to give penance to God and to remove the disease by divine intervention. In the fourteenth century the Flagellants were blamed for the plague in some towns because it seemed when they arrived the plague arrived too. They were soon banned by the Catholic Church. The plague had thus influenced church society. The one thing which is obvious from these figures is that the initial impact of the Black Death did not cause a crisis of faith or deter men from entering the priesthood. {Ormond, 1996 pg 89} What it does suggest is that where the door was closed for men to enter into Catholicism. These new religious groups or fathers of Protestantism were now strong and ready to battle the old monastic orders for freedom and religion. This fight cannot only be characterized as religious warfare but a wider scope would be a cultural revolution of society in England and the rest of Europe.

The vigorous culture of European Civilization was dependent on art, music and new manuscripts. During the period of the bubonic plague and after Europe witnessed a complete turn around in the culture, which fought for artistic and humanistic freedoms. However, it also showed the character and nature of the darkness of the plague within its art and new theology. “It put Europeans into a state of shock – shock from watching thousands of corpses pile up in the streets, shock at the complete failure of their religion to save them. Europeans began to question their old values {} To continue so much of the artistic and literary expression of fourteenth century Europe was a direct result of what people saw of the plague. Imagine dead bodies piled as high as a mountain. Moreover imagine a poor peasant receiving hundreds of gold coins just to pile these bodies and burn them to ashes. The medieval art of the twelfth century was influenced by romance, passion and chivalric warfare. ‘Gone were the days of beautiful maidens depicted in pictures with handsome knights willing to preserve the (sic) honor of the lady

This artwork of vibrancy color and beauty changed dramatically after the bubonic plague had run its course. The paintings were depicted of death, rape and gloom. The physical nature of the work was stoic in nature. The only analysis is the artist and thinkers were expressing feelings of hatred towards the church and nobility. The majority of the population had believed that the world was coming to and end. They had envisioned the coming of this day as the wicked day or the end of the world. Much of the blame was put on the church and the nobility. So much of the artwork depicts the end of the world or doomsday. The chains of the poor were melted away from the hot fires of hell and the Norman nobility who had first enslaved them in ten sixty-six were now feeling the wrath of God. Many of these people believed it was the end of the world and they took part in massive sexual rituals and some even denounced God. This is evident in the pictures and the writings of art in Sicily and other parts of Europe. A prime example of this plague art is shown in the pictures below.

In the picture we have skeleton horses, orgies and murder. This was very much the culture of the people who had not necessary denounced God but the power of the church and the nobility.

This culture shock was not only noticeable in the areas of art. It was also found in marriage. The average age in which people now married had changed. In the previous centuries urban and rural males married rather late, in order to inherit land or capitol to support a family. After the plague, however, rural men began to marry earlier at an age closer to that of their wives. The reason for this was the generation of this period now wanted to achieve everything before they died. This included marriage, children and sexual pleasures. In the decades of plague millions of men and women died without experiencing marriage. The need to experience life pleasures was more important… Also before the plague the music and costumes were brilliantly decorated. In the decades after the plague music was non existent. Even the poetry changed. For example the English nursery rhyme titled “Ring around the Rosy”. They say that it started in the “Middle Ages when the Plague was rampant. The ‘ring around the rosy’ referred to the marks that showed up on people’s bodies, and the ‘pocket full of posies’ means the nosegays people would hold up to their noses to block out the stench of the dead. As we all know, the next line is ‘Ashes, ashes, we all fall down’, meaning that so many died, it seemed as if everyone would ‘fall down dead’.(( Another story is the Pied Piper. Although the story as its origins in twelve eighty-four. The story is an account of hundreds of rats crawling out of the city sewers and hideaways to die. This is very much what happened in the thirteen hundreds. Many historians believed the date of the Pied Piper, was changed to a century before as to not bring a curse back to the world.”(Encyclopedia).

The effects of the plague are finally identified culturally in the words of Petrarch. To continue Petrarch talks about art, he said that “though its beauty is a source of wonder to the masters of the art, the ignorant do not understand it. (Wilkins, 1959 pg 182-3) What Petrarch is saying is the families welcome a less worldly and less humanistic art than that of the earlier years. A further study of Italy and early humanism shows you that the movement had started in Florence. Boccaccio, in the Decameron, writes of Florence, that ‘they’ dug for each graveyard a huge trench, in which they had laid the corpses as they arrived by the hundreds at a time, piling them up tier upon tier as merchandise is stowed in a ship, each covered with a little earth, until the trench would hold no more. (Boccaccio, pg.6-7) This suffering influenced and strengthened the minds of the free thinkers to be acutely aware of the church. It seems these humanists also relished in the idea that the church and nobility shall feel the wrath of Hades. The era of Boccaccio and Petrarch exuded deep emotions, but this was not feelings of chivalry or romance, it was pain suffering and fear. It was a fear of death and survival, but more important it was a fight to keep the new freedom inherited by the vagabond working class. The most significant works of art could only be described as works of deep melancholy and emotional pain, suffering and death. However, whether this loss of artistic color and vibrancy resulted directly from the plague is hard to say, because the scholars of art will tell you that art is always changing naturally. What I see though is the impact of the change and how it changed physically. What I mean is the talented churchmen and Kings had all their favorites. When these artist who did work like painting or wrote manuscripts for the nobility, when they succumbed to the plague, this opened the door for the artist of a lower middle class or peasant line to achieve personal expressions. What I believe is the plague indirectly freed many people to express themselves artistically and politically. This new expression owes much of its freedom to the events of the bubonic plague.

In conclusion the bubonic plague is an event of epic and devastating catastrophe, but it was not the only tumultuous event of the thirteen hundreds. In this century which I will call the century of spiritual and physical chaos, we as scholars can analyze, the hundred year wars and the expulsion of the Plantagenet’s dynasty from France, along with the Great Famine, and the inquisitions of the church to expel the ‘Cathars and the Templar Knights as events that engineered great changes. What is remarkable about the plague is the amount of people who died in Europe. In fact more people died in a three year period than in the two world wars. To continue these changes could easily be explained as the natural evolution of man in the society. A more important element that evoked major changes in the middles ages, was the humanist movement. In studying the circumstance in how humanism was born you learn of ‘flesh and blood and the struggles of people. This was the passion and political freedom that England and the rest of Europe achieved from the monastic orders and the liege lords. Finally the plague as been around before the bible and it is still with us today. They plague could be symbolized as the grey or skeleton horse of death who in revelations brought great, war and famine. Symbolically speaking the grey horse of death did make men realize that we are not gods and we should upon our eyes. But as scholars can we ignore the natural evolution of man and put so much, onus, on the plague being the most important reason for economical political and social changes. The ethical solution to this problem is to study the evolution of the German and English language in relations to the printing press and its freedom from the ruling Latin nobility across Europe.

Courtney Duncan