Black Plague: The Black Death

1378 Words 6 Pages
The Black Death The Black Death, or bubonic plague, has been, by far, one of the most destructive, widespread, epidemics in history. Between the years 1346 and 1353, through commerce, the spread of bacteria, and bad hygiene, the Black Death came about in Europe, eventually eradicating between seventy-five and two-hundred million Europeans. It has been concluded that the Black Death originated in the dried up plains of Central Asia, and was spread through trade routes such as the silk road. In the mid 1300’s, when the merchants of Asia transported this disease through oriental rat fleas, it spread, causing the death of approximately thirty to sixty percent of Europe’s population. This plague lasted until the late fourteenth century, and reoccurred …show more content…
The king of France declared, in 1345, that the heavens were the cause of this pestilence. This was the first, and most commonly, accepted theory for the cause of the plague at the time, and it wasn’t until the reoccurring outbreaks that it was suspected to be a real disease. Hygiene at the time was below average, with grimy streets, diseased animals, and parasites everywhere; it wasn’t until the nineteenth century that people thought it was important to stay clean. With the badly kept condition of Europe, the Black Death spread quickly and easily. Fleas, that traveled through rats and other rodents on Asian ships, carried Yersinia pestis, a bacteria containing the bubonic plague. When a flea is infected with Yersinia pestis, they react with aggressive feeding behavior and tend to infect their host, the rats, with the bacteria. These rats, then carry the disease through the shabby country, infecting the people as well. According to George Deaux’s translation of written reports from the fourteenth century, one of the Genoese traders that carried these rats on their ships said, “Alas! our ships enter the port, but of a thousand sailors hardly ten are spared. We reach our homes; our kindred and our neighbors come from all parts to visit us. Woe to us for we cast …show more content…
According to ABC News in Science, the Black Death killed between seventy-five and two-hundred million people in Europe and Asia. There were some planned, Christian funerals and burials when the disease began to spread, but as it infected a wider population, the death rate was so quick that there were just mass burials. During the fourteenth century, a witness to this pestilence wrote, “when has any such thing been even heard or seen; in what annals has it ever been read that houses were left vacant, cities deserted, the country neglected, the fields too small for the dead and a fearful and universal solitude over the whole earth?” This plague left towns desolate due to the fact that it killed about fifty percent of the population. Those with the Black Death, and diseases similar to it were also persecuted, because religion fanatics believed God was angry at them, resulting in widespread disease. Since many people didn’t scientifically understand the disease, they assumed it was a punishment from God for committing sins such as greed, blasphemy, fornication, etc. Many believed receiving God’s forgiveness would rid the plague, and others believed it was needed to eliminate the nonconformists of the time. Many Jews were killed at the time because Europe owed them money, and that was seen as greedy, and those that showed plague symptoms were also killed.

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