The Black Death – by Glenda XuPosted: June 12, 2012
What was the Black Death?
The Black Death was one of the most terrible plagues that have wiped out many people during 1347 – 1351. It was very dangerous and contagious and has killed around one-third to one-quarter of Europe’s population at that time. The Black Death was a name given to a disease called the bubonic plague which was name after buboes. The Bubonic Plague was called ‘The Black Death’ because one of the reactions of getting the disease was blackening of swelling lumps around the neck, under the arms and on the inner thighs. There were many symptoms of The Black Death such as painful swelling (buboes), very high fever, vomiting, back pain and soreness in arms and legs.
The disease was passed to humans by fleas infected from unclean rats which were cause by bad hygiene and sanitation from people. People back then didn’t know anything about hygiene. People used to dispose their chamber pot’s contents out the window and onto the street. All the rubbish and human wastes covered the streets and no one bothers to clean it up. People would just wait for nature to rain and wash it away.
Victims during ‘The Black Death’ had no idea what had caused the disease; neither did the physicians in the Middle Ages. People thought it was God punishing them for something they did wrong during their lifetime.
Where did it come from?
The Plague first started in eastern parts of China. It was then spread by the fleas on the rats that were boarding on the ships for trade on trade routes to Europe. People on trading ships also caught the sickness from the disease. It was then spread to parts of Southern Asia by trading routes. Merchant ships brought it to Sicily, near Italy. Once in Italy, it then spread throughout the rest of Europe and top parts of Africa.
The Black Death has followed the trade routes and provided access to all corners of the known world. The increase amount of trade routes used has made the disease spread to many different countries around the world.
Why did it come to an end, only to reappear from time to time again in later years?
It came to an end because people started to realize that it came from bad hygiene. They started cleaning up their mess and soon the rats were gone as well as the plague.
There was little found but the Black Death reappearing from time to time again in later years but some people might have still carried the disease that caused them to spread it again. The disease continued to spread occasionally across Europe in 1369, 1374-5, 1379, 1390, 1407 and so on until as late as 1722. It didn’t strike across Europe with the force it did then.
People nowadays still carry the disease but very few.
The Black Death Doctors
Back then in the Middle Ages, the doctors had limited knowledge and didn’t know what really cause the Black Death. Doctors also believed in witchcraft and superstitious stuff as well. They tried their best to cure the disease but they didn’t have much success. Most people died even though the doctors tried to cure them.
The doctors wore a black long robe covering all exposed skin, leather gloves and a broad-brimmed hat, worn low on the head and boots. They also wore a mask covering the whole head with a long beak filled with pleasant smelling oils, herbs or perfumes in the tip to make the bad smells of people with the disease go away. They would wear this so they won’t catch the disease.
What did the Black Death doctors do to get rid of the disease?
The doctors did these things to try to cure the disease. One of the things they did was to telling sick people to sit near the fire. This was one of most common things they used back then. They would also tell the victim to sleep on one side and then turn the other. They also told the patients to eat a lot of fruit and green vegetables but it wasn’t that successful and usually just helped the patient just to fight off the illness. Also, they use leeches or place cups over the buboes to suck out the blood. Sometimes they would do something painful to get rid of it and it was popping or cutting the buboes. This will allow the disease to leave the body. To the cuts they made on the skin, they would put an ointment made of clay and violets on it. It was extremely painful for the patients.
The feudal system
The feudal system was made up of 4 classes, the peasants (free serfs and those bound to lord for life), Sub-Tenants (knights and lesser clergy), Tenants-In-Chief (lords and bishops) and the Monarch (The King).
Monarch – Was the top of the Feudal system and was also in complete control under it. He owned all the land in the country and can choose who to lease the land to. He also gave land and other privileges to the Tenants-In-Chief.
Tenants-In-Chief – Pledged their loyalty, money and prayers and provided fully equipped knights to serve for a term in the Monarch’s army. They gave their land and other privileges to the Sub-Tenants. They were allowed to create their own system of justice.
Sub-Tenants – Guarded property of Tenant-In-Chief and protected him and also offers to fight and pray for the Monarch. They allocated spare land to the peasants. They also kept s much land as they want to and gave to rest to the peasants.
Peasants –Was the lowest of the feudal system. They worked in the land of the Sub-Tenants and Tenants-In-Chief and paid taxes in the form of crops. They had no rights and were often mistreated and poor.
How did the Black Death affect the feudalism?
When the Black Death came to Europe and killed almost one-third to one-quarter of its population, it had affected the feudal system. It caused shortage of manpower to work the fields and the lords faced severe labor shortages. This gave advantage to the serfs, who now began to demand higher wages in return for work. They wanted to improve their lifestyle by getting richer and better treated.
- Humanities alive history 1 (level 5) for Victorian Essential Learning Standards – Textbook
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