History 104A, November 16: The Aftermath of Death!
Well, let's see. We took the exam. I have not even looked at
them. I've got a tournament of Saturday that I am entering entries
for. And as I indicated, I generally don't grade papers until the
weekend, so I anticipate going through them on Sunday. We had a full
turnout minus one, I think. Is there anyone else besides Jessica that
missed the exam? You missed it. Sickness is acceptable.
A She had the plague.
A He saw me that morning.
A I wouldn't even let her in my car.
THE PROFESSOR: In any case, we're all going to start out with
the plagued today, so it leads us into it.
I brought the album for a reason. I turned on the computer for a
reason too. I wanted to look on-line and maybe I'll get to it on the
stats, for whatever it's worth, that we have on the black plague. We
touched on it perhaps in passing that, in 1347, a major plague
devastated Europe. Minor plagues had devastated Europe in years
previously. And of course there were no knowledge as to what passed
on the plague. We know of course today that it was borne by rats
carrying the fleas that had the plague. And of course we are living
in fear right now, or at least some people are, of chickens. We're
very chicken of chickens. And apparently where there is movement
across the borders -- the avian flue is spreading and they're calling
it a possible pandemic, a major flu like the one in 1918 or
thereabouts that killed like 20 million people worldwide. There's far
more information on World War I than we have on that devastated flu
itself. Obviously there is at least a vaccine, but they haven't
perfected it. They haven't apparently, can't really deal with it
until they have more information on which particular flu spreads. And
they do anticipate millions of deaths if it really explodes. And
obviously, that is a little frightening. We live in a sort of a sense
of immortality and don't think about how nature can impact us. That
is part of the elements that modern civilization has attempted to
control. And certainly in so many ways, we've wiped out other
devastating diseases like smallpox from the world, smallpox and
measles, were two of the biggest killers from way back. When I grew
up, everybody panicked over polio, and people were crippled through
polio. And it's again gone pretty much, although there have been a
couple of minor cases that have reappeared recently. I don't mean to
create a negative element here, but I guess in the sense that we deal
with the plague. Of course, the closest we have in today is AIDS, yet
we don't necessarily worry as much AIDS in the sense that is something
not just done through the air. It's spread through certain activities
that most of you of course are aware of how to prevent. That doesn't
mean you will, and so it's not something that we have no control over,
but we become more fearful of things that we have no control over.
The point I'm trying to make is that the panic that obviously reached
Europe in 1347 created some strange groups, organizations and actions
due to the panic.
Of course today we do have people like Pat Robertson and others
who make these comments as far as God's devastation for your evil and
the Sodom and Gomorrah in San Francisco but excluding the, shall we
call them eccentrics or if you prefer nuts. The fact of the matter is
that we may well see you that same kind of a panic. What I'm
referring to is groups, for example, that decided to purify themselves
to avoid the plague by beating themselves. They beat the evil out of
themselves. They walked around the streets swatting, whipping
themselves. We had people all over dragging crosses, big wooden
crosses, in a sense of showing their love of God and following the
direction of the Christ. But more important was the change perhaps
that took place -- again, the little things that occurred, if you
will, in the image of Christ himself.
Previous to the black plague, the crucifix that was seen in
Europe had a sort of mellow ephemeral image of Christ, sort of
God-like and mellow. The images of Christ on the cross, after 1347,
were a suffering Christ, a Christ in pain. And the whole view, the
world view, the view of optimism turned very heavily into the
pessimistic society. And not only the plague itself, but we saw a
transformation into the -- I mean the impact as well with the wars
that expanded in Europe, especially the hundred years war that
continued for a little over 100 years, which also brought tremendous
death to France and, within limitations, to England.
Perhaps on another level we see some other changes in society.
Religion doesn't seem to work for some. People are dying. Many begin
to lose perhaps their faith in an afterlife, their faith in religion.
God has turned against them perhaps; and therefore, they turn against
God. The title of the subject for the new section, which is section
eight -- what a plague, also the changing face of heresy. By the way,
the waning of the middle ages is basically referring to the end of the
14th and early 15th century, that some also see as the beginning of
the renaissance and the ending, or the slow ending, waning of the
medieval mentality. In other words, it is a transformation taking
place in Europe from a spiritual world directed and derived, lead
through spiritualism, into a world of secularism, secularism meaning
dealing more with humans and humankind. And of course near the end of
this particular waning, we also deal with the expansion of
materialism, economics. By the way, if you have any questions on this
quote/unquote straight lecture, don't hesitant to ask.
When I say the changing face of heresy, heresy throughout
medieval period dealt with contradictions with people's attitude
towards religion. Heresy meant that people disagreed or acted
contrarily to the basic faith, the faith of the Christian which we now
call the Catholic church at the time. Many wars broke out. Many
hierarchies were put down. And perhaps the largest heresy in the
medieval, late medieval period was the Albigensian crusades. It
basically was in the -- well, the Albigensian crusade was when the
Catholic church went against a large continuously expanding group of
individuals who began to, if you will, the concept of a duality, of
God coming out of Persia. If you remember earlier I spoke about
Zoroastrianism in Persia. There was a God of goodness, a God of
light, and then a God of evil, a God of darkness. And that having
faith in a Ahura-Mazda would mean have lasting salivation and heaven;
and otherwise, you would be following Ahriman, the God of evil which
of course we refer to as the devil was Ahriman, that sense then that
it wasn't simply a fallen angel. And of course many of us today know
that there are -- what the hell is the world? Wicket -- those who
A Wicca is not really a satin worship. Some are, but usually it's
more Goddess worship, which I didn't think goddesses are necessarily
satin unless --
THE PROFESSOR: We touched on that with Lilith being sort of seen
as an evil force, although because she rejected the inferiority that
Adam wanted and demand equality with men. And so the wicca says has a
very feminist and even a lesbian overtone for some to it. And perhaps
it does touch with the Satan worship.
The concept goes beyond it. And that is that you have literally
God, all powerful of evil and an all powerful God of goodness and
light who are in conflict rather than simply a force in Satan in hell,
of punishment who was not equal to God but wanted to be and therefore
was thrown out of heaven. Am I getting that somewhat correct? I
always question myself on not being familiar with Christianity within
In any case, that particular sense of faith looking to the
darkness and to the light created a mass movement in southern France,
and to some extent, into southern Germany. And the Pope literally
ordered a crusade, remission of sin, the term I used before referring
to willingness of Christians to die in a crusade fighting the forces
of evil. And with that, they would go directly to heaven, all their
sins, all the evil that they did were to be forgiven, dying for
Christ. I identified earlier that Saint Francis, the Franciscan of
course, our City of San Francisco named after him, and Saint Dominic,
the Dominicans, right next door here, both of those two movements to
purify religion during that period expanded. Both Dominic and Francis
fought against the Albigensians in those crusades through to about
1225. But while they were defeated, those forces of the Albigensians
continued throughout the 13th century. However, what I'm alluding to
is that basically after 1347 that power of religion over people's
lives dissipates, and now we approach a period where the new
hierarchies are not religion. Religion is still there, but the new
hierarchies are secular, worldly, stately. They're against the
nation, the new emerging nation.
In 1351, because of the loss of life, labor throughout northern
Europe where the black plague hits heavily, has been devastated,
meaning there are less workers. With less workers, there is a demand
for more money by those workers. In 1351, England issues something
known as the statute of labor, fixing the salaries that workers can
make, fixing the jobs that they can hold. Again, as we often argue
today, Halliburton and other businesses control the commercial
interest, control the monarchies. And certainly it is beginning to
occur in this 14th century where monarchies are now aware that by
taking money, they can now hire professional soldiers and pay them for
their service and their loyalty. And who do they get the money from?
The merchants, the employers.
In England, due to this starvation/taxation, as in many countries
in northern Europe and as far down as northern Italy, we have peasant
rebellions. We have the rebellion of the working class, of those down
below, the underdogs. They rise up. The most famous one in western
history occurs in 1381. It's known as the peasants rebellion. Led by
a miner soldier by the name of Wattyler leading perhaps 10,000
rebellious people around a friar named John Ball. As his religious
leader who he called his Pope, if you will, and was with the aid of
another name that comes forth in English history. It seems to be a
name now in the English parliament, Jack Straw. A rebellion occurs
demanding emancipation of the serfs, demanding freedom and the
elimination of all serf obligations. In other words, to get rid of
the feudal obligations. Devastating the English countryside around
London, they go into the churches which is where the records are kept.
They burn the records. They kill the priests that they get there and
the bailiffs, the political authorities. And they encircle London
forcing the young King Edward, who's 14 years old, to emancipate, free
the serfs and end serfdom. Once of course they get what they want, in
the Maxwellian sense, you give them a little and then when they calm
down, you take it back. Edward comes out and meets with Wattyler,
with his nobles again, because more demands are issued; and he begins
to appeal to the rebels. I am England; I am your king. Now, that
sense that we have and I guess all people have, is that our leaders
are not the evil people. They're God-like, but they get bad advice;
it's their advisors. Edward is being controlled by the arch bishop.
Bush is being controlled by Cheney. They're not bad because we love
them. In a sense, people are listening to Edward and the rebels are.
In the meantime, one of his retainers stabs Wattyler to death and
kills him. And without the leadership from above, the rebellion falls
apart and the leaders are tortured, confessing their sins, and sent
onto hell and damnation, if you will. And the promises that are
provided are withdrawn. Serfdom is reestablished. Feudal obligations
are reestablished. The only thing, in part, to come out of it, is
that in 1397 certain rights and powers are given to the parliament. A
parliament is formally established with a House of Commons and a House
of Lords and the expansion with the prime minister and, if you will,
the maintaining of the minister of the exchequer, the exchequer
referring to the treasury. As I said, England is more of our
tradition and history, but the same kind of rebellions are taking
place throughout northern Europe and into the Germanys.
I pointed out that the black plagues continued, never as
devastated as 1347, but reappearing to the 17th century. We don't
know why it all of a sudden ceased, but one explanation is that a
different kind of a brown rat was no longer a host to the flea that
carried the bubonic plague.
That same sense of a nation rebellion politicals, as with the
peasant rebellion, occurs on a different level. And of course I've
spoken about her before with Joan of Arc. I am, as I said, previously
very fascinated with the history of Joan of Arc as many people are.
As I pointed out, one of the least known books I suppose or one of the
books that is not very well-known by Mark Twain is a biography of Joan
of Arc which I did read. It's not very funny like most of his stuff,
but certainly he had a fascination with this charismatic woman who
sees visions and somehow convinces the Charles VII of France who is not yet king to
allow her to put on armor and lead the French military at the age of
17. Don't you feel bad, men or women who are 17 years old, and you
didn't led the military yet, haven't even gone in? With that, it's a
national uprising. Granted, he turns against her and sells her out to
the Burgundians who sell her out to the English and she's burned at the
stake. The spirit of Joan of Arc brings about, as the peasants
rebellion do, is generally an inspiration as John Ball was, but the
heresy, the conflict, is in state.
It's interesting a lot of people have written on the back plague
in essays up here. This might be cute because it's done by a high
school student from Texas. In any case, while it warms up, the next
element here that we're dealing with is economic expansion. And while
I identified that the black plague devastated Europe and to some
extent the economy of Europe, the fact is that the economy tends to
change during this period. It becomes much more efficient. General
information -- I guess this is just a -- like many people, once it's
up here the links are gone. Many years ago I took -- I was at a
veterinarian and they had this sort of flea powder thing that they
were advertising. And it said in the booklet that the reason cats
became popular during the medieval period was to get the rats because
they would kill the rats and therefore save the plague. The fact is,
they had no idea what caused the plague. Of course many of you have
seen the Monty Python "bring out your dead" and that kind of stuff.
Well, that's interesting. The plague is a fascinating thing, but it
certainly doesn't bring in that sense of romance that we find with the
battles in Europe. This name by the way is a well-known one, Barbara
Tuchman. She wrote a book called A Distant Mirror which, as a
historian, is well written. Most history books are boring as are
history professors. This book deals with the 14th century, the black
plague itself and the wars, the 100 years war, and is one of the top
books ever written. It's about 40 years old now, I think. This is
interesting and I didn't know this. In 1334 an epidemic which
eventually killed two-thirds of China's inhabitants struck the
northeastern Chinese province of Hopei. The black death began to work
its way west striking India, China, and Mesopotamia. You have to
watch these Chinese. Sars and now the avian flu, and you never know.
Q Did Sars really kill that many people? I thought it was only a
total of a few thousand?
THE PROFESSOR: No. It didn't kill many because they caught it
finally. What the issue was, that China refused to recognize it and
covered it up for a while. And then there were greater fear of what
might happen because of the lack of knowledge. It was like a few
years ago, a plague that, if you will, they had no idea what it was
and it killed a few people and people panicked. It was a legionnaires
whatever they call it. My mind is blanking here. What I'm trying to
identify is, it's not what we know, it's what we don't know that
scares us. And Sars certainly was finally closed off. It was panic
stricken from my perspective because my son was in Shanghai at the
time taking courses as a transfer student. And they closed the
program down, ordered all of the Americans to return home. He refused
to go and he stayed there. Others had left even before because of the
fears that had been generated. And again, I think it's tough time to
deal with it.
In 1646 the plague came to Kaffa, which by the way, is northern
Italy and a port successful to the central trade. And then in 1647,
to the Italians delight, their opponents began to die off at an
alarming rate. In other words, it passed on throughout. Well, I
didn't find what I really wanted which were some charts. I should
have looked this up beforehand.
-- (end PowerPoint) --
Okay. With the crusades we saw a new change in the economic
system of Europe. I didn't get into it because, while I talked about
the crusades, I didn't talk about what was basically modern Europe.
There are certain elements to modern Europe and to the modern world.
And one of those elements, besides nationalism, which I talked about,
and I touched on the unicorn and I'll go into that a little more
thoroughly. One of the elements is capitalism. Again, a simple
definition, if you will, of capitalism -- the means of production
which is land, label, and capital. Now, capital, we're not just
talking about money. We're talking about anything that produces
another product which can produce a form of wealth. Land, labor, and
capital are controlled or owned by the businessmen, by the
entrepreneurs, by the bourgeoisie. And goods and services are
distributed through supply and demand. Capitalism is the antithesis
of exhibition. What it is argued under supply and demand is that the
selfish businessman will sell a product at the highest worth he can
get, and he will not make something unless there's a demand for it.
He will not make something if he can't make a large profit selling it.
For example, it may cost only 10 or 20 cents to make a contact lens.
They're sold for three or $400 because people are willing to pay that
money for that particular product.
In medieval times, we dealt with the sense of worth of quality
and fair trade, a fair price, a just price. You sold it, not for what
you could get, but for what the product was worth and nothing more.
If you tried to rip off your customer, that was considered a sin, a
sin that required confession. People therefore didn't share freely,
but they sold things at a profit that was minimal and was regulated by
the guilds. Usury was prohibitive, meaning, lending money at an
exorbitant rate. What is exorbitant? Every God dam credit card you
have, every loan you take out in a bank. Translation, most loans
today for houses are sitting at about 7 percent. Bank cards are
running 15 to 21 percent interest. That's usury. In the medieval
times, if you lent money, it was anticipated that you would charge 1
or 2 percent. Nice. Unless you were a money hungry Jew or Muslim,
because you were not Christian and therefore you could demand a pound
of flesh in return. That's from The Merchant of Venice, if you didn't
pick up on it, which again explains, in part, another reason that Jews
and Muslims were hated in Christian Europe. Nobody loves bankers.
Nobody loves money lenders.
However, with the new secularization, the new worldliness, if you
will, the rejection of the church and perhaps even better said, the
extreme wealth the church was itself accumulating, we began to see a
new beginning, bullionism, mercantilism, and capitalism we're going to
talk about. What came back from the crusades was keeping up with the
Joneses, which translated to people who went there, found products
that they brought back to Europe, that had been there but not in the
abundance. If somebody came back with a silk dress, every noble
wanted a silk dress. But more important was the change in food.
Spices coming out of the East preserved foods. And we talked about
what it did in also creating beer. But the spices themselves were
used to make sausages and frankfurters or whatever, which stayed
longer than just a few days. Remember refrigeration did not exist as
such. And for some reason, incense. I mean, I can understand with
the French because they smell terribly. And so we purified the house
and got rid of evil and got rid of disease by burning incense. And so
that became extremely popular coming out of the East.
Many of you have heard of Magellan and how Magellan circumcised
the world, circumnavigated, I'm sorry. And as many of you know, he
dies, was killed before returning. And of the three ships that went
out with Magellan in 1519, only one returned to Portugal. That ship
had enough wealth to cover the expedition 100 times over in spices and
in silk. And from time to time, something we refer to as China which
is porcelain. With that and those dreams of wealth running through
your heads, we'll see you Wednesday.
A Friday. Today is Wednesday.
THE PROFESSOR: What happened to my Monday? I gave an exam.
I'll see you Friday.