The Effect of Crisis on Religion in Europe: Black Death vs. Wwii

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The Effect of Crisis on Religion in Europe:

How did Black Death and World War II affect religious beliefs in Europe, with a focus on the effects it had on both the Roman Catholic Church and Jews?

Candidate Name: Katie Miller

Candidate Number:____________

May 2013

History Extended Essay

Supervisor: Mr. Derek Parsons

Word Count: 3,133


This essay is a comparative analysis of the effect that two major crises in Europe had upon religion. Europe was a central hub for both the events of the Black Death, as the place where the devastation of the plague was most accurately documented, and World War II, as it was the main theater during the conflict. Both events are
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Some people “reformed their ways, married their concubines, abstained from drinking and gambling, and appeased the friends and neighbors they had insulted or offended.” 4 One of the more extremist groups, who were known as the Flagellants, held to the idea of penitence. This strange and terrible brotherhood, also known as the Brethren of the Cross, originated in Germany.5 The Church vehemently opposed the self-abasing group. The Flagellants held processionals through the streets, whipping themselves as they went from town to town. Penitence is a practice that lost favor after the Black Plague due to its ineffectiveness to prevent the spread of the disease, and in part due to the extreme lengths it was taken to during the plague. The Flagellants criticized the Church for not following God’s law, and eventually found a popular target to blame for the pestilence: the Jews.

The actions against Jews first began with Constantine, after Christianity was officially accepted as a religion in the fourth century, with heavy penalties for those who “visited a pagan temple or converted to Judaism.”6 Through history, they were again faced with injustices through the punishment of mixed Jewish-Christian marriages

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