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The Dancing Plague of 1518

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Written by Tadese Faforiji

It would of course seem astonishing to know that residents of a particular place died as a result of uncontrollable dancing. In Strasbourg city of the Holy Roman Empire, in July 1518, the people of this place were caught up with an uncontrollable desire to dance.

Dancing Plague Began

Frau Troffea was claimed to be the first person to be plagued by the desire when she got to the city street and began to twist, and shake gently, uncontrollably shaking her body. For almost seven days, Frau kept dancing alone and three other residents joined her. Within 30 days, this dancing epidemic had afflicted over 400 residents.

As the victims of the epidemic kept increasing, there was the construction of stage and hiring of professional dancers into Strasbourg, but unfortunately for them, the majority of them collapsed and died due to many health issues incurred from the ongoing dancing.

This event did not stop until September when the dancing victims were moved to a mountaintop shrine to pray for them. Now, this event which was documented in the historical records of the 16th century has become an astonishing event that seems like a myth, or legend.

Dancing Plague: Causes

Modern theories claim the cause for this mania is a mixture of hard times and a superstitious population (Dusty Old Thing). At the time, there were famine and diseases. As explained by Historian John Waller, pious people believed St.Vitus has the spiritual power to raise curses upon people to be afflicted with dancing plague. These people may have suffered from stress-induced hysteria.

According to another theory, the dancers were claimed to be part of a secret religious cult. Summarily, the exact causes of the dancing epidemic remain unknown till today except with the use of propositions and others.

Tadese Faforiji. The Dancing Plague of 1518. Tadexprof. December 7, 2021. Retrieved from

Dancing Plague: References

  • Dancing plague of 1518 – Wikipedia
  • The Fascinating, Tragic Dancing Plague of 1518 That Killed 400 People | Dusty Old Thing.
  • What was the dancing plague of 1518? – HISTORY
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About the author

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Tadese Faforiji

I am Tadese Faforiji, a history student of the prestigious Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, Ondo State- 21st-century University, properly called. I am a blogger and an avid writer.

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