The Dancing Plague Of 1518


This art by Hendrik Hondius was based on the original drawing by Pieter Bruegel, who supposedly witnessed a subsequent outbreak in 1564 in Flanders

As i said before this blog is a compilation and summary of mystery tales/events solved and unsolved. Now, as some the unsolved events may not have any explanations to them, they might have a plausible theory as to what might have caused them. As most of my previous posts has been about archaeological discoveries i am now going to start talking about mystery events and this one is a twisted tale as it sounds like something straight out of fiction but with a plausible explanation. 

It started on the summer period of July 1518 in the town Alsace, a woman Mrs Troffea began dancing wildly on the streets of Strasbourg. She danced for approximately six days and in a week 34 others joined her, within a month there were 400 more dancers in the streets of strasbourge mostly females. Physicians were called to try and find the problem but the dancing continued and worsened. Many dancers became ill, some died of exhaustion, cardiac arrest and strokes. Reports of the periods indicates that the plague killed at least fifteen people a day. Documentations, including physician notes, cathedral sermons, local and regional Archives, and even notes issued by the Strasbourg city council made it clear that the victims danced. As the dancing plague worsened, concerned nobles sought the advice of local physicians, who claimed that astrological and supernatural forces were behind the plagues instead announcing that the plague might be the results of some natural diseases caused by Hot blood but instead of prescribing a bloodletting, the town authorities were told to encourage the dancing so they did, by opening two guildhalls for the crazed dancers, a grain market even created a wooden stage and paid musicians to play music in order to keep the afflicted people moving all with the idea that they would recover if they continuously danced non-stop day and night 

A Marathon runner could not have lasted the intense workout that these men and women did hundreds of years ago stated by Historian, John Waller. 

Reasons to the mystery? 
Theoretically though, in a modern aspects this event might have been caused by Ergotamine which is the psychoactive product of Ergot fungi (a fungi which mostly grow on grains in the wheat family like Rye) and people of the medieval era consumes a lot of grains. 
Ergotamine is structurally related to the recreational drug Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD-25), and is the substance from which LSD-25 was originally synthesized. The same fungus has also been implicated in other major historical anomalies, including the Salem witch trials. John Waller speculates that the dancing was stress-induced psychosis on a massive level, since that region of Alsace was said to be riddled with starvation and disease, and most of the inhabitants were superstitious people. Some other cases of dancing plague were also reported in the same region during the medieval periods.

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