Black Death

December 15, 2016 History

The Black Death was one of the greatest downfalls to European population in this history of man. In the early 1330??™s a large scale outbreak of deadly plague occurred in the eastern hemisphere. The bubonic plague originated in China and was carried throughout the world by mainly rodents. These rodents carried fleas which would bite the animal then in turn bite humans, transmitting the sickness. The plague caused fever and swelling of lymph glands. Being that China was one of the largest trade centers in the world it was only a matter of time before the outbreak of the Black Death spread to western Asia and Europe.
Coming from the east, the Black Death or Bubonic Plague reached the coastline of Italy in the spring of 1348 unveiling one of the largest epidemics that mankind has ever seen. Nearly 50% or Europe??™s population was struck by this sickness.
By August the plague had spread as far north as England, where people called it “The Black Death” because of the large amount of black spots it produced on the skin. A terrible killer was loose across Europe, and Medieval medicine had no way to cure it.
In winter the disease seemed to have started to die off, but this was only because the fleas that were carrying the disease were lying dormant. Come spring, the plague attacked again, killing new victims. After five years 25 million people were dead, eliminating one-third of Europes population.
Even when the worst had come and gone smaller outbreaks continued, not for years, but for centuries. The survivors lived in constant fear of the plagues return, and the disease did not disappear until the 1600s. Back then the ability to kill of rodents and insects was not a feasible process. It wasn??™t until the disease had been completely removed from the rodents and insects that humans stopped becoming sick.
Medieval society never recovered from the horrible results of the black plague. With such a large percentage of the population being killed by the disease there was a large shortage in labor. This led to workers demanding higher wages, but landlords refused those demands. By the end of the 1300s peasant revolts broke out all across Europe.
The plague came in three different forms, all interrelated. The name bubonic came from the large swellings or buboes that appeared on a victim??™s neck, armpits or groin. These large tumors would range in size from the size of a golf ball to that of an orange. Though some did survive the agonizing ordeal, the spread of these lesions usually meant that the person only had a week to live.
The bubonic plague was caused by a bacterium called Yersinia pestis and is characterized by chills, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and the formulation of black boils in the armpits, neck, and groin areas. Though the disease was originally called the “Great Mortality” and the “Great Pestilence,” the name “Black Death” was eventually adopted because of these black boils, which derive their color from dried blood under the skin caused by internal bleeding. In certain cases the bacterium spreads to the victims lungs, causing them to fill with frothy, bloody liquid. This derivation of the disease is called pneumonic plague, and can quickly spread from person to person through the air. It is almost always lethal.
Works Cited
_Medieval History – Life in the Middle Ages and Renaissance_. Web. 27 Mar. 2010.…/theblackdeath/a/death_defined.htm.


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