Rome is lettered with ancient public baths. These are remnants of a culture some modern people view as decadent, as it certainly was at some point. The public baths are also a sign that hygiene was important in their culture. Unfortunately, that sign went unread for quite some time after the beginning of the Dark Ages.
Some time later, Catholicism was sweeping the land and forcibly uniting unhappy people under the hypocrisy as well as the iron fist of this Asian-born church. Their missionaries traveled far and wide destroying any culture that wasn’t theirs and demonizing everything the Pagans held in high regards. This eventually worked to their disadvantage because one thing they noticed about the Pagans was that they were actually clean due to their washing on a regular basis. What they should’ve done was take note of the fact that both ancient and (then) modern cultures viewed good hygiene as an important aspect of daily life, and they should’ve then come to the conclusion that there must be a connection between the good hygiene and good health of the Pagans.
What they did instead was outlaw such practices because of their association with Paganism as well as their reasoning that it is morally and spiritually wrong for people to touch themselves even while cleaning. People obeyed out of fear of torture and death, but starting around the mid 1300’s that’s exactly what happened anyway. They called it the Black Death and said it was a plague sent by their god to punish people for being sinful. It is said that in those days a man could’ve seemed perfectly fine at breakfast and be dead by dinner.
Still, people made no connection between the sweeping death and their bad hygiene. It was ordinary to be covered in fleas, surrounded by rats, and to have to pour copious amounts of cologne over oneself to cover the stench caused by not washing on a regular basis, so perhaps it seemed so normal to them that the thought just never occurred, and if it did, whoever thought of it probably would’ve been burned to death for voicing it anyway. So they continued dying in their own filth and blaming sinners for this “Plague of God”.
Ironically, that’s basically what it was because if they’d kept their own religions and cultures, they probably wouldn’t have had such a terrible flea problem and the Yersina pestis wouldn’t have been spread around so much and so quickly. In this way, “their” god and “their” religion (in quotes because they were mostly following an Asiatic religion – the European religion is Paganism) did and still do hold partial responsibility.
However, one part they got wrong was that they thought the plague was sent because of Catholic sinners. Actually, the pious would’ve been more susceptible because they washed the least. They failed to learn from the past and so doomed the future. There is also a theory that their wells were poisoned by the immigrant/formerly-enslaved Jews who had created and helped to spread Catholicism in the first place. This is supported both by the almost completely plague-free Poland where many of the Jews lived as well as the fact that the Jews were killed and forced en masse to leave the countries in which they were staying, reportedly because the Jews had been tried and found to be guilty of putting something in the wells before the plague had broken out (as reported by people who witnessed them doing so). However, this theory will not be discussed here… any more than it already has been.