Black Plague Influence On Fine Arts

The Black Plague’s Influence on the Fine Arts.
The Black Plague was a catastrophe that shook humanity to its core. This disease was one of the most impactful epidemics in human history wiping out approximately one third of Europe’s population between 1347-1350 (Johnston 566). The Black Plague, or known by as its medical name, the Bubonic Plague, was a deadly disease tied to poor sanitation, and was extremely contagious. As explained in The Gale Encyclopedia of Science, “Humans became infected only through the bite of a flea that has ingested blood from an infected rodent. Another route of transmission is through person-to-person contact. If a person’s lungs are infected with the bacteria, the disease can be transmitted easily to another person
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The web article The Effect of Black Death on Art and Artists in the Medieval Period, fully examines how the Black Plague influenced the fine arts. At that time in Europe, artists were highly respected for their craft, even when their art focused on death. The Black Plague and the feeling of hopelessness completely consumed all areas of the fine arts. The sad reality was so overwhelming that some artists even gave up on their craft. Despite the challenges, many artists continued on with their work and created many pieces dedicated to the plague. A song entitled, A Medieval Song about the Plague (see fig. 5), referred to in the article, is about a traveling merchant, who keeps moving from place to place because his customers keep dying. He gruesomely describes the suffering victims of the plague as they fight for life, using phrases such as “The town I left was filled with dead,/ and everywhere these queer red flies/ crawled upon the corpses’ eyes,/ eating them away”. At the end of the song, the merchant sneezes, insinuating that he, himself has caught the plague and will soon suffering the same fate as the victims he is singing about. The plague inspired numerous musicians to write hymns and songs about the suffering of humanity, some of these songs are even known today. For example, many people believe that the popular children’s song, Ring Around the Rosie (see fig. 6), is connected to the Black Plague. This is explained in the web article “Ring Around A Rosie” A Brief History of the Bubonic Plague”. In the article, Gail Berry reveals the ties the lyrics of the song have to the bubonic plague. “The “ring of roses” describes the red buboes around the neck of an infected person (swollen lymph nodes); “posies” refers to the herbs or flowers that people carried in their pockets to breathe, hoping it would protect them from the disease; “at-choo” refers to a sneeze which

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