The Black Death (A.K.A . the bubonic plague), was a horrifying epidemic killing approximately 25 million people within the space of 5 years. It was called the bubonic plague because of the dark ‘buboes’ that appeared on the neck, under the arm pits, and on the upper thigh and groin area. The plague was caused by infected fleas that were transported by rats all over Europe. The unsanitary streets attracted the infested rats, causing the disease to be transported into those peoples towns.
How did people try to deal with the Black Plague?
People from the middle ages had very bad sanitation and health. They did not know much about sickness or what caused it. The doctors from the middle ages did not know much about science or about any diseases. The doctors thought of many different cures for the Black Death, but none cured the victims at all. The medicine that was used in the fourteenth century was very limited and was mainly based on concepts and religion. Many believed that the plague was a punishment from God. They thought they had to confess and please him to become well again. Most medicines were made from herbs and spices, and also animal products. Many people thought that the plague came from the bad smelling air, Therefore they often carried bunches of flowers and herbs to keep the germ away. Some Doctors caused their patients bleed out their blood, so that the patient would have cleaner blood, without diseases. They also thought that sounds could ward off the plague, so people made as much sound as possible. Because nobody knew what caused the disease, they didn’t know how to treat it. Most people also tried to burst their boils. Some people also cleaned the streets, which was actually the right thing to do.
Why is the Black Death not a problem today?
Most citizens today believe that the Black death has been destroyed. But in actual fact, there are still many cases of the Black Death today. The bacteria that was carried by fleas in the middle ages is still around today. The Black Death is still a very real threat to people in poor, third-world, or just unsanitary countries/areas, like China, Mongolia, Africa, and many more. Today, modern research and science has found cures to the Black Death. Although the plague can still be deadly, many measures are now taken to prevent the epidemic happening again. Most people now have access to doctors, who can give the patient antibiotics, and many other medicines to cure the disease. Most outbreaks of the plague can easily be prevented by just being sanitary and keeping clean.
When did the Black Death occur?
The Black Death occurred within the middle ages, in Fourteenth Century. The main outbreak lasted from 1347 -1352, but the plague mainly effect England from 1348 to 1350. Most people back then had bad hygiene and that’s why the epidemic spread so quickly and so vast.
Why were so many people affected?
So many people were impacted because most people lived in very crammed and tight spaces. This also made waste disposal an issue, which caused people to just tip their waste out the window of their home, bringing the rats. Because everyone was so close, the fleas could easily infect many people in a day, meaning that nobody could hide from the infection. Some people that did not die from the plague had immune systems that could withstand the plague.
What was it (The Black Death) and where did it come from?
The Bubonic Plague, also known as the Black Death, was a one of the most devastating pandemics in human history that is believed to have broken out in China due to poor sanitation and hygiene. In some areas, nearly 50% of the Chinese people died. It swept through India and Persia before entering Europe through Crimea and Italy. Bad sanitation and hygiene caused an outbreak of rats through the streets. These rats carried fleas which carried the Bubonic plague. The fleas would bite humans and inject the disease into them. It struck Europe from 1346 to 1351. The Black Death has been named ‘The Mother Of All Plagues” due to its devastating death toll of over 25 million.
What impact did it have on Europe?
The Black Death had a devastating effect on all of Europe. By the time the plague had played itself out, between 25% and 50% of the people had been affected by the Plague. The disease struck and killed its victims with horrifying speed. The Italian writer Boccaccio said its victims “Ate lunch with their friends and dinner with their ancestors in paradise.” In just under 5 years, over 25 million people died. This is equal to one third of Europe’s population. On Jess Conlon’s page, it explains how The Black Death affected the Feudal System and how it contributed to its fall.
(Bonus question) Who was the Plague Doctor?
A Plague Doctor was a special medical physician who visited those who had the plague. He wore a costume to protect him from airborne diseases. This costume consisted of an ankle-length coat, a bird-like beak which was filled with a pleasant smelling substance (the buboes were extremely smelly) , along with gloves, boots and a brim hat. Eyeholes were cut into thte mask and replaced with glass. Any visible skin was covered to prevent skin-to-skin contact. The doctor also carried a wood cane which was used to lift bed sheets and clothing and also point out areas that needed attention. In that time, the doctors believed the plague was spread through the air because of the bad smells, not through rats and fleas. This is why they covered up every inch of open skin to they don’t touch the disease ridden air. The Plague Doctor costume was perhaps the most potent symbol of the Black Death.
The diorama I created is showing the filthy streets where the plague hit. As you can see it is extremely dirty, which attracts rats infected with the plague. My creation also shows a victim of the plague, who, after dying, was just dumped on the streets. This actually happened! The strange figure that looks like a giant crow in a hat is a doctor! The reason doctors had beaks was so they could put in pleasant smelling substances such as herbs as they believed bad smell was a cause of the disease. The doctor also has a rod which would most commonly be used for pushing away desperate victims or clearing the pathway in front of him to walk. You can read more about doctors of the Black Death on Erin Gridley’s blog, where she explains the reasons of their outfit!
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Q1: WHAT WERE THE BLACK DEATH’S EFFECTS?
The Black Death (bubonic plague) affected so many people in many different ways. The people who were infected by the disease had many horrifying symptoms. The early effects of the plague included having a headache, fever, chills, vomiting and a white tongue-a lot like have a very bad flu. Within a short period of time, the lymph glands in the groin, armpit and neck swell up into big blue-black lumps that excrete pus and blood and leave a terrible smell. Within a day or so, all these pussy, bloody and smelly lumps start to cover the whole body, leaving the victim in complete agony. The victim’s heart then begins to beat rapidly and their speech becomes unable to understand. Their victims would often stagger around, looking like they are drunk, now called ‘Dance of Death’. After living with these terrible effects of the plague, the infected person would die within days. How long before the person died could often be based on how strong or weak they were, the weaker ones would die quicker and the stronger would take longer to die.
Q2: WHY DID THE BLACK DEATH COME TO AN END, ONLY TO REAPPEAR FROM TIME TO TIME AGAIN IN LATER YEAR?
Although nobody knows the exact reason of why the Black Plague died out it is thought that the most possible reason was that the people in the town finally learnt about bad hygiene and sanitation. After all, it was their poor knowledge of bacteria and filthy streets that cause the rats holding with fleas which are the carriers of this deadly plague to fill up the narrow town streets. After cleaning up the streets, learning about germs and also making the town streets less narrow, the plague became rarer and rarer. Medical knowledge became stronger; unlike it was when the plague first hit. The plague would have reappeared time to time as sanitation can never be perfect and in poorer areas people do not care or have knowledge about good hygiene. Obviously, the dirty streets and bacteria would attract rats that would be infested with fleas which were carrying the plague, causing the plague to reappear. Even nowadays people in extremely poor, third world countries can be diagnosed with this plague and even die because of it. Until the whole world is clean and sanitary the Black Plague can always reappear.
Q3 (bonus question): WHAT IMPACT DID THE BLACK DEATH HAVE ON THE FEUDAL SYSTEM AND EVERYDAY LIFE?
Because of the raging plague and massive loss of life from it, landowners would have been experiencing major labour shortages. Many townspeople and peasants had fled, leaving their houses empty, their animals wandering around by themselves and crops left to rot. Because of this, the town suffered starvation. The reason feudalism ended was the fact that, because of the massive loss of peasants and labourers, peasants began to demand payment for their crops from their lords for whom they were working. If the lords failed to pay them the peasants could then move on to a new lord. There is no doubt the Black Death sped up the end of feudalism by reducing the amount of peasants and labourers.
Thank you very much for taking the time to read this and I hope you have learnt something from it! Below are the websites that helped me to answer these questions. 🙂