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Jessica Knauss

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The paralympic athletes have also conquered many medals in sports like swimming, boccia and wrestling. During the Middle Ages, Kings originally called Parliaments to explain their policies and ask for money. It can be diffi cult for modern Westerners to comprehend the conditions that prevailed back then, for the Europeans who began sailing across the world.� In 1500, Europeans had been living on the cusp of disaster for the previous two centuries. �Earth began cooling off in the 1200s, and the High Middle Ages’ aggressive deforestation and agriculture on previously unsuitable lands, combined with the resultant population explosion, left Europe in a precarious state.� The first great famine that began in 1315 set the stage for what came afterward.� The “Little Ice Age” continued until about 1850, and war, famine, and disease were constant facts of life.� During those centuries, there was no European city that went an entire generation without suffering an outbreak of famine, war, or epidemic disease (or all three at once).� Not that Europe was a paradise before then, but Europe became a hell on Earth during those centuries.� Some motion pictures have attempted to recreate the ambience of those days, but no movie can do justice to the smells, feelings, and general atmosphere.� Heretics and witches burned across Europe.� In “civilized” London, a man did not walk down the street without a weapon in hand.� In European cities, criminals waited on every street, ready to pounce on the unwary.� One favored method was dropping bricks and masonry onto unsuspecting passersby and looting their bodies.� Food riots became common, beginning around 1500, as Europe’s population again began hitting the Malthusian limit.� Modern Westerners can scarcely imagine the filth and stench of those days.� People would go their entire lives without bathing, except for baptism.� England’s King James I, who commissioned his famous Bible, would not have been allowed in many Western homes.� He may have not washed his hands for his entire adult life, and was notable for his personal filthiness and boorish behavior.� The streets of Europe were open sewers, as were its rivers and lakes.� If Thomas Hobbes’s famous phrase, “nasty, brutish and short” ever applied to the lives of any people, it was to average Europeans during the “Little Ice Age.” The Iberian Pen insula, during its several century “Reconquest,” was the scene of continual warfare, disease, and famine.� The filthiness among Christians was enforced there on an even more stringent scale than the rest of Europe.� The Queen of Aragon once boasted that she had two baths in her life: when she was born and when she was married.� Bathing was a Moorish practice, and in 1500 bathing attracted the interest of the Spanish Inquisition, as it hunted down crypto-Moors and crypto-Jews, so filthiness was evidence of a Spaniard’s true Christian nature.� When Spaniards encountered Caribbean natives, they used the fact of the natives’ regular bathing as evidence of their “primitive” condition.� When the Spaniards eventually encountered the Aztecs, they remarked on their fanatical devotion to cleanliness, with daily baths and all manner of body and breath deodorant.� Aztecs found the stench of Spaniards so overpowering that they held flowers to their noses when speaking to them, and rulers would have Spaniards bathed in clouds of incense before speaking to them.� Tenochtitl�n had an army of street cleaners, and was cleaner than any European city would be until the 20th century.

Pages: 218

Publisher: Açedrex Publishing (September 7, 2011)


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