Monday, 29 October 2012

Dancing Plague of 1518

During the month of July, 1518, a woman named 'Frau Troffea', began to dance excessively in a street in Strasbourg. She continued to dance between 4 to 6 days. Within one week, 34 people had also joined in, and within a month, the number of dancers had peaked to 400. After a while, some people died from heart attack, stroke, or exhaustion. This phenomenon has occurred in numerous places, between the 14th and 17th centuries. It is known as Dancing Mania.

Dancing Mania involved many groups of people, even thousands at a time. It had affected men, women, and children. They all danced until they collapsed from exhaustion.

One of the first outbreaks occurred in Aachen, Germany, in 1374. It soon spread throughout Europe.

Soon after the outbreak in Strasbourg occurred, many people attempted to develop explanations and cures for what was happening.

As it worsened, concerned nobles asked for advice from local physicians. These physicians immediately ruled out astrological and supernatural causes, and rather announced that the plague was a natural disease.

Rather than prescribing the usual treatment, they encouraged more dancing, and even hired people to play music during, in hopes that it would help cease the dancing.

Many dancers would parade around naked, and some made obscene gestures. Some even had sexual intercourse.

Dancers would scream, laugh or cry, and some even sang. They would dance until they broke their ribs, or died from exhaustion.

One of the most interesting things about this event, is that all participants in this dancing all had very odd reactions to the colour red. Anyone who saw the colour red would become aggressive and violent.

How this 'dancing' came about to happen is still being debated, however what is certain is that all those involved seemed to be in a state of unconsciousness, and unable to control themselves altogether.

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