The Black Death

The Black Death

-Caitlin Robertson 8C

How did the Black Death affect Europe?

 There were about four million people in England in 1348 before the Black Death came. After the Black Death, the population cut to only about two and a half million left. One in three people probably died. Amongst priests, the death rate was even higher because they had to visit those who were dying. It was very hard to find enough people to take over take over their jobs. Many churches did not have services because they did not have priests.

 Food during the Black Death-

 The Black Death had a huge impact on Europe. Fields went unploughed as the men who usually did this, were sick with the Black Death. Harvests would not have been brought in as there were basically no workers. A lot of animals perished during this time as well, this was not because they had the Black Death, it was because that many of the workers had the Black Death, so they were either trying to fight it off, or they were dead.

 Because there was less food because of the workers, whole villages would have faced starvation. Towns and cities would have faced food shortages as the villages that surrounded them could not provide them with enough food. Grain farming became less popular, this kept towns and cities short of such basics as bread. One consequence of the Black Death was inflation the price of food went up creating more hardship for the poor. In some parts of England, food prices went up by four times.

 How did the peasants respond to the Black Death?

 Those who survived the Black Death believed that there was something special about them – almost as if God had protected them. They took the opportunity offered by the disease to improve their lifestyle.

 Peasants could demand higher wages as they knew that a lord was desperate to get in his harvest. So they used this power against the Lords, to get richer and better treated.  If they felt as if they could get a better deal somewhere else, with another Lord, then they would often move there if they could.

This picture shows some people who were suffering from the Black Death.

Why is it not a problem today?

We tend to assume that this is not a present day disease, however this not true. The answer to whether the disease is with us today is Yes, but very few. About 10 to 20 people contract the each year in the USA. Our main defence against the disease is hygiene. Our modern sewage systems and Public Health organisations keep this plague controlled better. It was more of an issue in the middle ages because of the unhygienic sewers. Back then, the streets were full of rubbish and waste, and of course that attracted rats, and with the rats, disease.

This is a map showing where th Black Death has been recently. (Was made in 1998)

In the map shown above, all of the yellow parts are where the Black Death has been reported in different counties. The red is the regions where the plague had occurred in animals, such as rabbits & rats etc.

As you can see, the Black Death hasn’t completely gone, but it is less dangerous, as there is now suitable medication for it.

My Questions & Answers

What were the signs of having the black death day by day?

 If you were unlucky enough to have the Black Death, then you were most likely to die. The disease in a body that had the Black Death was too big for the body to properly get rid of before they died. After they caught the Black Death, they only had about a week at the most to live before they died, the average time of death was 2-4 days after it was caught. That amount of time was not enough time for the body to make enough white blood cells to help fight off the disease, such as big as the Black Death.

 There are two types of the plague. One type infects the bloodstream, causing the buboes and internal bleeding, and was spread by contact. The pneumonic type infects the lungs and is spread by respiratory infection. Either one, was life threatening.

 The first steps for having the Black Death were having an awful head ache and a very high fever. The person would very often feel dizzy, and very sick. Vomiting would be very common in the first day or two as well. Bad coughing and shortness of breath was also another sign shown early on.

 The fingers and toes of the sick, would go black and pussy. The actual nail would go black as well, it looked a bit like terrible frost bite. (This is how the Black Death got its name, from the blackness on the toes and fingers.) By this stage, the person would be aching almost all over the body. By this stage, terrible looking ‘buboes’ appeared all over the body, (otherwise known as plague tokens) Some people believed that you had to drain the puss and blood from these, and then you would be healed, because “the disease was in the buboes.” This hardly achieved anything though.

 The sick’s armpits got swollen up as well. This is because the disease made all of the glands swell up, so anywhere that you had glands, swelled up. By this time, it was very noticeable that a person had the Black Death if they showed all of these symptoms.

As disgusting as it looks, this is what your skin would have looked like if you had the Black Death!

Cures and medicine-

Here are some popular treatments that people tried, from surgery to witchcraft.

Vinegar and water treatment If a person gets the disease, they must be put to bed. They should be washed with vinegar and rose-water. The they should rest, and not get out of bed.

Lancing the buboes The swellings associated with the Black Death should be cut open to allow the disease to leave the body. A mixture of tree resin, roots of white lilies and dried human excrement should be applied to the places where the body has been cut open.

bleeding The disease must be in the blood. The veins leading to the heart should be cut open. This will allow the disease to leave the body. An ointment made of clay and violets should be applied to the place where the cuts have been made.

Diet We should not eat food that goes off easily and smells badly such as meat, cheese and fish. Instead we should eat bread, fruit and vegetables.

sanitation The streets should be cleaned of all human and animal waste. It should be taken by a cart to a field outside of the village and burnt. All bodies should be buried in deep pits outside of the village and their clothes should also be burnt.

Pestilence medicine Roast the shells of newly laid eggs. Ground the roasted shells into a powder. Chop up the leaves and petals of marigold flowers. Put the egg shells and marigolds into a pot of good ale. Add treacle and warm over a fire. The patient should drink this mixture every morning and night.

witchcraft Place a live hen next to the swelling to draw out the pestilence from the body. To aid recovery you should drink a glass of your own urine twice a day.

A ‘witch’ casting spells to ‘help’ the Black Death exit the bodies.

How did the disease spread?

The Black Death came to Europe on a trading ships from the east, it was thought that it came from China. People thought that it was the end of the world because there was so much disease, droughts and earthquakes at one time. In Revelations it says that God would send diseases that would wipe out the earth. This is why they thought that the end was near.

The rats that were on the ships, carried the fleas that had the Black Death. The rats carried the fleas who had the disease on them, the rats caught the disease from the fleas. When the ship arrived on shore, many of the rats would have died from the disease. But the fleas which were carried from China, (or another country with the disease) then jumped on to the people. Once they got bitten, they caught the Black Death. Once a human who came in contact with someone who had the Black Death, it was very likely that they would catch the Black Death as well.

What did people do with the dead?

This diorama displays a frightful, yet common scene during the Black Death in Europe. Europe’s streets were not pleasant streets to be during that time, it was full of rubbish, rats, disease and a foul smell to add to the ‘charm.’

In towns and cities people lived very close together and they knew nothing about contagious diseases. The people didn’t get rid of the bodies properly sometimes, and this helped to spread the disease still further as those who handled the dead bodies did not protect themselves in any way. The filth that littered streets gave rats the perfect environment to breed and increase their numbers. More rats meant more disease! The rats enabled the disease to spread very quickly and the filth in the streets of our towns and cities did not help to stop the spread of the disease.

While a person came to collect the dead with a cart,  a person or two from the family of the dead person would come out of the home carrying the dead body, and place it on the cart with all of the others. A lot of people didn’t like this, because it wasn’t respectful to the dead, but there was no other way to do it.

This is the scene that my diorama showed. The cart is full of people with nasty sores on the people’s skin, proof that they had the Black Death. The houses painted in the background of the diorama, is what the houses looked like in the time of the Black Death.

What happened after-?

Once all of the bodies had been collected, the cart was usually very full, and wouldn’t have been a pretty sight either. The bodies were then thrown in to a mass burial or grave, away from the towns. A big hole was made, then all of the bodies were dumped in a pit all together. When the pit was full, it got covered.

This was a dug up mass burial. Layers upon layers of people were stacked up.

What the people thought?

This is part of a recount told at the time of The Black Death, describing what the plague looked like.

‘We see death coming into our midst like black smoke, a plague which cuts off the young, a rootless phantom which has no mercy or fair countenance. Woe is me of the shilling in the arm-pit; it is seething, terrible, wherever it may come, a head that gives pain and causes a loud cry, a burden carried under the arms, a painful angry knob, a white lump. It is of the form of an apple, like the head of an onion, a small boil that spares no-one. Great is its seething, like a burning cinder, a grievous thing of an ashy colour. It is an ugly eruption that comes with unseemly haste. It is a grievous ornament that breaks out in a rash. The early ornaments of black death.’

This was written by a someone called, Jeuan Gethin, who died in April 1349.

The Black Death terrified people. They would do just about anything to try to get rid of the disease that was in their body. They would do things desperate as sitting in a sewer to try to drive away the disease with the smell, they would also put leeches on their sores and hope that the leeches would suck out all of the bad blood.

5 Facts-

-The Black Death was in Europe from 1347 to 1351, when it was at peak.

-Virtually nobody suspected the ever-present rats and fleas.

-It returned many times during and after the Middle Ages.

-7500 victims of the disease were dying every day.

– People thought that God was punishing them, especially the children, as they were dying more.

It was because they were sinful children, so God was sending his wrath down upon them.

Bibliography-

 http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/black_death_of_1348_to_1350.htm

 http://www.middle-ages.org.uk/black-death.htm

http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/cures_for_the_black_death.htm

http://www.historytoday.com/lara-marks/black-death

http://www.william-shakespeare.info/bubonic-black-plague-modern-day.htm

http://staff.bbhcsd.org/vendelc/black_death.htm

http://www.deathreference.com/Bl-Ce/Black-Death.html

Black Death Diorama

Caitlin Robertson 8C

This diorama displays a frightful, yet common scene during the Black Death in Europe. Europe’s streets were not pleasant streets to be during that time, it was full of rubbish, rats, disease and a foul smell to add to the ‘charm.’

In towns and cities people lived very close together and they knew nothing about contagious diseases. The people didn’t get rid of the bodies properly sometimes, and this helped to spread the disease still further as those who handled the dead bodies did not protect themselves in any way. The filth that littered streets gave rats the perfect environment to breed and increase their numbers. More rats meant more disease! The rats enabled the disease to spread very quickly and the filth in the streets of our towns and cities did not help to stop the spread of the disease.

The streets covered in rats.

With all of these dead bodies hanging around, they needed someone to collect them, and take them away to try to stop the disease from spreading even further. So, someone got the unlucky job of pushing around a cart, and yelling “Bring out your dead, bring out your dead!” A person or two from the family of the dead person would come out of the home carrying the dead body, and place it on the cart with all of the others. A lot of people didn’t like this, because it wasn’t respectful to the dead, but there was no other way to do it.

This is the scene that my diorama showed. The cart is full of people with nasty sores on the people’s skin, proof that they had the Black Death. The houses painted in the background of the diorama, is what the houses looked like in the time of the Black Death.

In the background, you can see what the houses would have looked like back then. Most of the, had thatched roofs.

What happened after-?

Once all of the bodies had been collected, the cart was usually very full, and wouldn’t have been a pretty sight either. The bodies were then thrown in to a mass burial or grave, away from the towns. A big hole was made, then all of the bodies were dumped in a pit all together. When the pit was full, it got covered. Here are some more pictures of my diorama.

The people in the corner of this picture, are not suffering from the Black Death, but of starvation, because of the food shortage.

“Bring out your dead!”

Dead bodies on cart. Buboes can be seen.

The ‘death cart’

I hope that you have learned a lot from this website, and that it was interesting. Thank-you for reading it! 🙂

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9 Comments on “The Black Death”

  1. swift143 says:

    CAITLIN!! That is so good 😀 good job A+ x 13 for you haha 😉

  2. pikachu43 says:

    so good! ❤ kinda creepy… but so good!

  3. Emily's Blog says:

    caitlin that is AMAZING

  4. rebeccadon says:

    caity why are you so amazing!

  5. chloelim11 says:

    Oh my gosh your diorama is AMAAAAZIIINGGGG!!!! 🙂

  6. yours is so good!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ❤

  7. priscillalan says:

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  8. soccer1027 says:

    Thx this really helped. Im doing a researcch paper right now in school. Great Help!