Bubonic Plague Dbq

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During the dark ages, the belief in witchcraft, commerce and the draconian response by the church to the threat of the Black Death, accelerated and in many ways helped spread the Bubonic Plague. Yersinia Pestis, often referred to as the Black Plague or the Black Death is a bacterial infection found mainly in rodents and their fleas, however, it was the rat fleas that spread the plague to humans, while the rats, simply carried the plague from region to region. Ole Benedictow (2005, para. 33) calculated during the years of 1346 through 1353, over 50 million Europeans died of the Black Plague, effectively cutting Europe’s population by sixty percent. The plague was as far reaching as China, Russia, and India with outbreaks going back to the mid …show more content…
The incubation time of the bacteria often would mean trade ships would have come and gone before the first symptoms would appear. Ships and overland traders would flood goods into cities, those goods would then flow into the countryside spreading the plague further and further. The hardest hit was the great cities of Europe, where overwhelming population density and the massive flow of goods, often carrying rats with the rat fleas, would cause death tolls of up to sixty percent. The human condition requires answers when horrible events occur, and the plague was no exception. Superstition and the belief in witchcraft gave the perfect answer at the time. Local leaders, especially religious, used the plague in an attempt to expand their power as they blamed the “Dark Arts” and witches for it. Witches, often people at the wrong place and the wrong time, became easy targets for the church, and with the witches, the witches, familiar the …show more content…
Previously mentioned, the churches need to paint a villain or a group of people to blame for the plague. During the middle ages, the easiest targets were the Jewish people and witches. In a paper penned by Dr. George Rosen (1960, p. 200-201), he speaks about mass hysteria, the mob mentality, collective psychoses and how those issues can drive people to a belief, even though there is no basis in fact for that belief. Witches were not the only target, moreover, the witches familiar became an easy target. Jill Stefko (2014) points out that cats were believed to come from Satan himself. Compounding the matter, the Knights Templar, under torture admitted the devil came to them as a cat. While this may be bewildering to those of us in modern times, during the Middle Ages this was believed to be absolute truth resulting in the near wholesale slaughter of cats. With cats being the rat’s natural predator, this led to rat populations exploding. By their very nature, rats are a pack creature, consequently diseases, viruses and bacteria can quickly infect rat colonies. Infected colonies led to infected rat fleas, those infected fleas would find human hosts as the rats died from the various ailments. The population density of the rat colonies would explode given the rats prolific nature, therefore the rate of plague infection increased to people,

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