A Time to Dance, a Time to Die: The Extraordinary Story of the Dancing Plague of 1518
This is the true story of a wild dancing epidemic that brought death and fear to a 16th-century city, and the terrifying supernatural beliefs from which it arose.In July 1518 a terrifying and mysterious plague struck the medieval city of Strasbourg. Hundreds of men and women danced wildly, day after day, in the punishing summer heat. They did not want to dance, but could not stop. Throughout August and early September more and more were seized by the same terrible compulsion.By the time the epidemic subsided, heat and exhaustion had claimed an unfold number of lives, leaving thousands bewildered and bereaved, and an enduring enigma for future generations.Drawing on fresh evidence, John Waller's account of the bizarre events of 1518 explains why Strasbourg's dancing plague took place. In doing so it leads us into a largely vanished world, evoking the sights, sounds, aromas, diseases and hardships, the fervent supernaturalism, and the desperate hedonism of the late medieval world.At the same time, the extraordinary story this book tells offers rich insights into how people behave when driven beyond the limits of endurance. Above all, this is an exploration into the strangest capabilities of the human mind and the extremes to which fear and irrationality can lead us.
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The Dancing Plague
Signs of the Times
Plagues and Priests
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afflicted Alsace altar Annales de Sebastian Backman beliefs bishop Bishop of Strasbourg Black Forest Bundschuh carnival cathedral century chapel chapter Charcot choreomaniacs Chrisman Church city's clergy Collectanees Cologne Cathedral conversion disorder crazed cults culture curse dancers dancing epidemic dancing mania dancing plague death demons devils disease divine Duntzenheim Ensisheim ergot fatigue fear Frau Troffea Frau Troffea's dance Gebwiler Geiler Geschichte der Tanzkrankheit grain guild H.C. Erik Midelfort harvest healing Holy Roman Empire hysteria hysterical imagine Jean Wencker Johannes Trithemius Joss Fritz late Madness magistrates maladies medieval Midelfort minds misery monasteries monks nuns onlookers outbreaks pain Paracelsus peasants Perhaps physicians pilgrimage pilgrims poor possession rituals prayers priests psychological Quoted recorded red shoes Reformation Religious Dances Rhine saints Saverne Sebastian Brant sickness souls Specklin spirits spontaneous trance St John St Valentine St Vitus Strasbourg succumbed summer of 1518 symptoms town trance Trier University Press victims women