Mystery of Deadly Dance 1518

deadly dance
Paint by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (source: Wikipedia)

In many parts of the world, people are familiar with various dances. Usually, dance is considered part of the local culture and staged when there are important moments, such as marriage, and others. Well, the dance that ever plagues in Strasbourg is very different. They danced to death for no apparent reason. People go out to dance. More and more participants. They join to death one by one.

This strange event occurred in the middle of 1518. A woman named Frau Troffea danced in a narrow street in the city of Strasbourg. The cause is unknown. He did it for four or six days. In the first week, 34 other people danced with him. The number is growing and uncontrollable. Up to a month, a total of 400 people danced. They dance and jump. In another similar case, the dancers laughed, cried, screamed hysterically, or sang. "These people are not just shaking or spasms; although they are unconscious, their hands and feet move as if they are deliberately dancing, "says a historian from the University of Michigan called John Waller.

Most of the dancers are female although they are not mentioned clearly how much they compare with men. They continue to dance for days until someone dies because of a heart attack, fatigue, or stroke. It is said that 15 people died every day. This incident was recorded in the records of doctors, Church preachers, and by the government of Strasbourg.

The puzzle still continues. As the situation deteriorated, the government was concerned about the situation. But instead of stopping the dance, they even provided a stage in downtown that was free to use for dancing. They believe that the dancers will recover if they dance day and night without stopping. The government even hired professional dancers and musicians to keep the population dancing. Of course, because it is held in the middle of the city, the number of dancers increasingly booming.

dance plague
Dance Plague 1518 (source: Wikipedia)
There is a reason behind the policy. At that time the dance was considered a curse, as well as an antidote. Waller found several testimonies that tell how people who had regained consciousness danced. This time they dance not because of illness, but because they think of it as a way to repel the curse. As a result, as the summer ends many people die from exhaustion.

John Waller describes the burden experienced by physical dancers heavier than the burden of a marathon runner. He thinks marathon runners will not be able to survive the dance of death. In a normal calculation, Frau Troffea, the woman who initiated the strange event, should have died on the third day. However, various notes indicate that the dance lasts up to six days.

Reported by Wikipedia, modern theories suspect the horrible behavior is triggered poisoning. Based on this theory, residents who dance allegedly consume wheat infected with a kind of fire mushrooms. But the fungus actually blocks the blood circulation so that the movement of dancing is difficult to do.

Unlike again with the Digital Journal which mentions the stress that hit the general public as a trigger. Around the year 1518, the area was indeed hit by the crisis. Hunger struck everywhere and killed many people. Those who still survive are forced to beg. Not to mention the diseases of smallpox and syphilis are deadly. It depresses the psyche and makes them behave strangely.

On the other hand, the belief that Strasbourg residents are still thick with superstition is also not much help. Scattered allegations that the dance is a curse. When Saint Vitus from Sicilia who died 303 was angry, he would send out an outbreak of uncontrollable dance. The fear of this curse is thought to turn the dance of death into a religious ritual. John Waller found testimony to how some people were made intentional, dancing. With music guidance, they march to a temple made especially for the saint considered to be related to the plague: St. Vitus and St. John.

This mystery is still a debate until now. And it turns out this case does not just happen once. There were seven other similar cases during the Middle Ages. Everything takes place in the same area.

Read Also Mystery of Indonesian Hobbit
Next Post »