The Black Death Diorama – Emily Huang


The Black Death-jessica huang

How did people try to deal with black death?

Why do fleas only let go of they victim of black death once they are deadThe black death was a serious disease. it killed 1.5 million people out of an estimated total of  4 million. The black death was caused by fleas carried by rats. The fleas bit the poor victims which  gave them the disease. It was mainly the peasant that got the disease. There was many cures but none of them had worked. People believed that the black death comes from the bad smells in the air. The doctors gave flower or herbs to the patient to sniff on. The doctors encouraged people to burn pine and lemon leaves to carry around. Some Doctors had even suggested to them, to sniff some human wastes. A few doctors told their patients to bleed themselves and let the bad blood go away. Church bells rings and cannons are fired hoping that these noises will cure the black death……… which it didn’t work.

  Was the medicine useful?

The medicine used then was very basic. It did not help at all and was limited. People believed that these illness was a punishment from God for being bad by being a sinner. Medicines in the middle ages were made from herbs, spices and resins. The medicine was applied in drinks, pills, washes, baths, rubs, poultices, purges and ointments. Nobody really knew what was causing them to get this disease. When people had these disease they stink and these stink made them had head aches. Head pains were treated with sweet, nice smelling herbs such as lavender, sage and bay.A mixture of henbane and hemlock were applied to aching joints, these was told that it reduces the fever. This method did not work because the fever was so high you could feel it steaming from your head, so that trick would not work.

The black death- religion 

During the middle ages people were given a chance to confess their sins before they’re died. They were not enough clergy to offer last rites or given support and help those poor victims that will die soon. The situation soon gotten worse, it was so bad that Pope Clement VI was forced to grant remissions of sins to all who died of the Black death. NObody wanted to go to ‘hel’, because they believed that it was a place where you’ll get tortured. They believed that heaven was a place where you’ll get looked after and helped from people. The monks and nuns was helpers from the Pope. The jobs of the Nuns and Monks was to help people. Victims were allowed to confess their sins to one another.

How did Ring around the Rosie impacted on the black death.

Ring around the Rosie is a children’s song sung with smiling and laughing faces….. but did you know the true meaning of the nursery rhyme.

Here are what the lyrics mean:Ring around the rosie means the black sores that would appear on your body as part of the plague. Your “rosie” is the centre of your hand.

A pocket full of posies is for people who carried  posies (flowers) around to not smell the sickening scent of dead bodies everywhere.

Ashes Ashes signifies the ashes from all the bodies being burned on pyres.Means that bodies couldn’t be buried  or else the infection would spread.

We all fall down signifies death or people falling down to hell.

  The Diorama 

 photo.JPG the whole view of the diorama

photo.JPGnaughty rat…….. caused everyone to get sick. 

photo.JPGa sick patient

 photo.JPGa medieval doctor


Black Death Diorama

By Rebecca Donato 8B

The Black Death

The Black Death was one of the most serious illnesses in history. It was a gruesome disease which was spread by fleas on rats who would infect humans,which formed Buboes on a victim’s neck, armpit and groin area, and a victim would die 4-7 days after getting the first symptom. So many people died that the dead people would just be dumped into a mass grave, and it took 150 years to recover. It was truly something to be feared of.

Significant People Affected by the Plague

Not only the poor peasants were affected by the Black Plague; many important people were also killed by the Black Plague. Some important people were Joan Plantagenet (King Edward III’s favourite daughter) and William of Ockham.

Joan Plantagenet’s story – King Edward III (1312 – 1377) was King of England during the terrible period of the plague. Edward had arranged a marriage for his favourite daughter Joan Plantagenet. Joan was born in February 1335 in Woodstock. She was to marry King Pedro of Castille, the son of Alfonso XI and Maria of Portugal. The marriage was to take place in Castille. She left England with the blessing of her parents. At that time, the Black Death had not yet taken its hold in England and its first victims had only been claimed in France in August 1348. Joan travelled through France and contracted the deadly disease. She died on 2 Sep 1348 in Bayonne of the Black Death.

William of Ockham’s story – William of Ockham was not only influential in metaphysics, but also in all other major areas of medieval philosophy, like logic, physics or natural philosophy, theory of knowledge, ethics, and political philosophy, as well as in theology.

He died of plague during the black death epidemic in a convent in Munich either in 1347 or 1349(, the exact date is unknown). However, as the disease did not reach Munich until late 1348, the year of his death is more likely to have been 1349. Medical historian Dr Jim Leavesley from Margaret River in Western Australia, talks about this period and has set the time for this tribute half way between, to make this year the 660th anniversary of William of Ockham’s death.

– William of Ockham

The Plague Today

Despite how many people think that the Black Death is no longer around, it actually still kills and infects people today. Yersinia pestis, the plague bacterium, is still around. It is endemic in rodents in the US and in other wild animals around the world (and so are the fleas that transmit plague to humans), and outbreaks still occur. Modern medical care, like antibiotics, intravenous fluids, and respirator support, have made the plague much more survivable than it was in the past, although it can still be fatal.

In many parts of the world, like the United States, China, India, Vietnam, and Mongolia, it has been confirmed that the Black Death has killed many people in recent years. In 2003, almost all in Africa, 2100 people were infected and 180 deaths caused by the Black Death were reported. Also, in 2006, at least 50 people died because of the plague in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

However, most people survived because they were given the right antibiotics at the right time. Since rat-infested, crowded, and dirty places are beneficial places for the plague to spread, outbreaks can be prevented by keeping places clean.

It was also feared that some people might even think of converting the plague into a gas type form and turn it into a terrorism attack that attacks people biologically, like chemical warfare.

     – Buboes on the neck

The Symptoms of the Black Death

The victim of the black death would die 4 to 7 days after the first signs of the illness. Below are the symptoms of the black death.

1. Plague-infected flea bites the victim

2. Victim develops fever and pains

3. Victim feels tired and weak, but finds it difficult to sleep

4. Body temperature increases

5. Victim feels giddy, appears dazed, and begins to talk wildly

6. Swollen glands appear in the groin, armpit, or neck. These are called Buboes.

7. Bleeding under the skin causes blue-black or purple blotches

8. Red rash with small red spots appears on Buboes

9. Victim dies

–  Buboes on the Neck

Types of the Plague

1. The Bubonic plague – this is the most common form of the plague. This is when Buboes, which are painful, swollen lumps grow on the neck, armpit, or groin area.

2.The Septicemic plague – this plague which comes from fleas or from contact with a plague-infected body, spreads throughout the body via the bloodstream.

3. The  Pneumonic plague –  this is the most infectious type of plague. This advanced stage of the Bubonic plague is spread directly, person to person, through droplets coughed from the lungs that stay in the air. Someone can be infected simply by breathing in the air that an infected person breathed.

While the Bubonic Plague only kills half of thevictims that it infects, the other two, the Septicemic and Pneumonic Plague kills almost everyone who is infected.

15 Interesting Facts

1. The “Black Death” wasn’t the original name for that horrible disease. Back in the Medieval Times, it was called “The Great Mortality”, or “The Pestilence”. The reason it was call

2. Around the time when the Black Death started, there was a sudden growth in population in Europe. Also, there were two years of cold weather and torrential rains that killed the grain crops, so there was a shortage of food for everyone, even the animals. This then caused people and animals to all crowd in the cities, creating a good place for disease to spread.

3. The first named victims of the plague died in 1338 and 1339 in the area around Lake Issyk Kul (Lake Baikal) in Russia. On their grave it says: “In the year of the hare (1339). This is the grave of Kutluk. He died of the plague with his wife, Magnu-Kelka.

4. In November 1347, a fleet of Genoese trading ships landed in Messina, Sicily after trading along the coast from the Black Sea to Italy. The ships carried dead and dying sailors, many of whom had Buboes grown on their necks, in their armpits, or in their groins. Many coughed blood. Those who were alive died within days.

5. In Siena, more than half the population died. Work stopped on the city’s great cathedral, which was planned to be the biggest in the world, and was never resumed. The architecture still stands as reminder of the death that stopped its construction.

6. In May 1349, the plague reached Bergen, Norway, on a ship carrying wool from England. Within days of arriving in Bergen, the crew and passengers of the ship had all died.

7. A November 2000 study of tooth pulp in a French plague grave showed the presence of Yersinia pestis in all of 20 samples from three victims.

8. Yersinia pestis infects its flea by blocking its stomach. The flea tries repeatedly to feed, but the blockage causes it to regurgitate bacilli into its host. When the host dies, the flea and its offspring seek a new host, infesting humans when necessary.

9. Medieval doctors believed the plague had at least one of several causes. Many thought it was a punishment from God for the sins of the people. Virtually nobody suspected the ever-present rats and fleas.

10. After being tortured, some Jews confessed that they were poisoning wells and other water sources, creating the plague. As a result, Jews were expelled or killed by the thousands. As a result of these confessions, the entire Jewish population of Strassburg, Germany, was given the choice to convert to Christianity or be burned on rows of stakes on a platform in the city’s burial ground. About 2,000 were killed.

11. Although the poor were hit hardest, nobility didn’t escape. King Alfonso XI of Castile and León was the only reigning monarch to die, but many members of royal families from Naples to England were killed.

12. Of 140 Dominican brothers in Montpellier, only seven survived the Black Death

13. Prior to the Black Death, music was plentiful and cheerful. During the plague, music was rare and grim. Other art forms, including visual arts and literature, also reflect the misery of the time.

14. Closed communities, such as monasteries and nunneries, were especially vulnerable. If one person became infected, the whole community might die. And because friars and nuns tended the sick, infection among them was common.

15. Bodies were piled up inside and outside city walls where they lay until mass graves could be dug. This contributed to the bad air and helped to spread the disease.

– Skeletons of victims in a mass grave

I hope you’ve had fun and learnt a lot with this post!


Year 8 History Exam Revision Sheet, Semester 1, 2012

The Black Death

What is the Black Death and where did it come from?

The black death was a fatal plague that spread through medieval England during the 1300s.  It causes gangrene in the toes and fingers, therefore giving it the name of “the Black Death.” The disease was first thought to have come from China and then spread to Europe by the rats and fleas that snuck onto trading ships and the sailors caught it and carried it across the trading routes from China to England. The disease first came to the city of Bristol, England in 1348 in June and August, and it reached London by the 1st of November 1348. This sickness killed up to 25 million people, a quarter of which were European, over 4 years throughout its death defying rampage through Medieval Europe. London was an extremely crowded city filled with up to 70,000 people, all who knew nothing about hygiene. The River Thames brought more ships and infection to London which spread to the rest of England. So many people died from this sickness that they couldn’t hold individual funerals for each person so they were just thrown into a big pit with hundreds of other dead people and buried there. Many people were thrown into open communal pits. Many towns and villages were completely wiped out after the destruction of the black death.

What impact did it have on Europe?

The black death killed many peasants and serfs and those that didn’t get killed ran away in fear of being infected with the plague. This caused many problems in the medieval times because the peasants and serfs made up about 90% of society. Nobles tried to decrease the amount of labour and increase the amount of payment that peasants received so that they would stay and care for them and keep their loyalty. But even with this effort, the Feudal system came to an end due to the great loss in society.

Spread of the black death-

The black death spread around Europe really quickly, due to the lack of hygiene and health maintained in Medieval England. The black death followed the sailors, rats and fleas on trade routes all around the world and infected many different countries and cities, some including: Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, England, Asia, Germany, Scandinavia, Norway, Bergen, Russia, Egypt, Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Jerusalem, Constantinople, Damascus, Antioch, Mecca, Mawsil, Bordeaux, Normandy, Baghdad and Yemen.

Where the black death spread to and when.

Cures in the modern day-

The main defense in the infection of the black death in modern day society is personal hygiene. But when the occasional case of this disease breaks out, the patient will get isolated and treated with a vaccine, then trace their previous actions and eliminate the cause of the outbreak. Outbreaks these days are usually caused by rodents and fleas, just like in the medieval times. Nowadays it is rather easy to find these infected rodents and eliminate them, but this would have been almost impossible in Medieval England.


“Black Death”,

(2009) “Modern Day Bubonic Plague and Black Death”,

Benedictow, O. (2005), “The Black Death: The Greatest Catastrophe Ever”,

Rebecca Donato 8B


This article will be split into five sections and in each section, one question will be addressed.The questions that will be addressed are:

  1. What were the effects of the Black Plague?
  2. What did the plague doctors wear and why?
  3. What types of treatments were used on the patients?
  4. What was the Black Death cycle?
  5. What were the benefits of the Black Plague?

1. What were the effects of the Black Plague

There were various effects of the Black Death, but before this topic is discussed, a few clarifications will be made. Firstly, “the effects of the Black Plague” does not mean the disease’s symptoms. Instead, it is talking about the effect of the plague on people and Europe. Secondly, when the Black Plague is said, it is referring to the plague that occurred during the Middle Ages.

The Black Death was a disaster. When the disease struck European towns and cities, most farmers stopped tending to their fields and animals because they thought that by going outside, they would be more vulnerable to the plague. Since less people farmed, the amount of food produced lessened, therefore the prices of food increased dramatically. Additionally, because the prices on food surged sky high, most people lived on meagre supplies of food. As well as the plague killing people, starvation was another cause for deaths.

Although the prices of things skyrocketed, the wages paid to workers also surged up and the working conditions improved as well. This benefited all the poor people who worked for rich lords. The reason why this happened was because everybody was afraid to go out because they feared catching the plague. Most people back then were afraid of death. The increase of wages helped peasants greatly during the plague.

After the Black Death swept through Europe, most of its population’s faith grew weaker. As well as faith, the trust in the church also weakened greatly. Since the people of the church were not safe from the plague either, people thought that God wasn’t with them. Additionally, the members of the church couldn’t heal the sick. All this resulted in diminished faith and trust in God and the church.

The Black Plague had some good effects, but it also had some bad effects: it helped the peasant earn more money; stopped farmers from farming because they were afraid of the plague; and deteriorated the trust and faith the people put in the church and God. The Black Plague was a disaster. If we didn’t have the medicine we have today, and we were hit with this plague, we would surely have acted the same way, so we can thankful for our advanced medicine, knowledge and technology.

Nobody liked working so when the Black Plague swept across the continent, wages soared up.

2. What did the plague doctors wear and why?

These days when you enter a hospital, you see all the doctors and nurses dressed in scrubs. These costumes look friendly and they are easier to move in. However, back in the Middle Ages, some doctors specialised treated the black plague. These doctors did not wear scrubs. Instead, they wore eccentric clothing. The clothing consisted of: a wide-brimmed black hat; a primitive gas mask; a long, black overcoat; and leather breeches.

The wide-brimmed hat that was worn close to the head served the purpose of identifying a doctor. It is similar to the way we identify chefs and soldiers today. For example, if you see a person wearing a white toque, you will immediately recognize him as a chef. As well as being used for identification, the hat also served the purpose of shielding from the infection. Even during the time when the plague was at its peak, no one knew exactly where it came from; some people just assumed it was from the sun, therefore the usage of the hat.

As well as wearing wide-brimmed hats, plague doctors also wore gas masks in the shape of a bird’s beak. This mask had a red glass eyepiece attached to it. These eyepieces were believed to make the wearer invulnerable to evil. During the time when the disease massacred people, some believed that the plague came from birds. There was also another belief that by wearing a bird-like mask, the wearer could cure the plague. The beak of the gas mask was filled with strong herbs and spices to overpower the “bad air” which was supposedly carrying the plague as well.

Another piece of clothing plague doctors wore was a long, black overcoat. The overcoat extended all the way to the feet, and it was tucked in behind the beak of the gas mask at the neckline. This was to cover more of the skin. On this garment was a layer of wax. People believe that this was to stop sputum or other fluids from sticking onto it.

The leather breeches that plague doctors wore were similar to the ones worn by anglers. These undergarments were worn under the cloak. Apparently, this protected the lower half of the body from infection.

The clothing of plague doctors was extremely fascinating. All of the pieces had a special reason for its usage; the wide-brimmed hat identified the doctors and ‘protected’ them from the plague; the masks made the wearer immune to evil and helped cure the plague; long, black overcoats protected most of the body from the disease and bodily fluids; and the leather breeches protected the lower half of the body from infection.

This is a picture showing what plague doctors wore

3. What types of treatments were used on the patients?

During the Middle Ages, the medicine used was not advanced and they had little knowledge of which medicines to use and if it would work. Additionally, most of the treatments the doctors gave had no effect due to their lack of knowledge. Now our technology has allowed our medicine to become more effective than ever, so when you look back at the medicine that used to be used, you cannot help but wonder, “why did they think that?”

Many plague doctors thought that the Black Death could be excreted through sweat. Nowadays, we definitely know that this is not true, but back then, people had no idea where the disease came from. To create the sweat, doctors suggested patients to drink hot drinks. Running or other forms of exercise were not suggested because the patient was usually not allowed outdoors.

Another theory of the plague was that it was in the blood. At the time, doctors did know that leeches drained blood out of their victims, so they applied leeches to their patients in vain attempts to get rid of the disease. Leeches are not intelligent creatures like us humans; therefore, they suck out the good blood as well as the bad blood. Usually, a patient treated with leeches dies from blood loses if he/she does not die from the disease.

The Black Death was horrible but the treatments doctors issued were as well. These medicines had no effect at all. Doctors tried many treatments including attaching leeches to the patient and getting the patient to drink hot drinks. Now that you know about some medieval treatments, be thankful for what we have today.

A vampiresque leech draining blood from one of its victims

4.  What was the Black Death cycle

The Black Plague is a disease that has a simply cycle. For multiple years, people had no idea where the disease came from, how to stop its cycle and what its cycle was. This was one of the reasons why people couldn’t get rid of the disease. Nowadays, doctors and scientists have knowledge about all these things; therefore it can be stopped easily.

The Black Death cycle starts with rats becoming infected with a type of bacteria called Yersinia Pestis. Once the rat becomes infected with this disease, it can start spreading. The bacteria is spread to other rats via contact and it is spread to fleas when the fleas bite the infected rat. The fleas stay on the rats until the rats die, then the fleas find new hosts. On the flea’s journey to find a new host, it might bite a human. If it does, the human receives the Black Death.

This short cycle seems simple and easy to stop, but back in the Middle Ages, people took a long period of time to stop it. This was due to their lack of knowledge. Today people hardly think of this disease as one that still exists. This is because medicine has advanced so much it can treat a Black Plague victim easily.

This diagram shows the Black Death Cycle
It starts with the flea drinking the rat’s blood

5. What were the benefits of the Black Plague?

It is a well know fact that the Black Plague was a massive disaster; people were dying everywhere. Although most people see this pandemic plague as a bad thing, it actually had multiple benefits.

Firstly, the Bubonic Plague was used as a biological weapon. This weapon had great success. Since the disease was so contagious and it had a high death rate of 50%-75%, many people thought of this as the scariest weapon in history. Some people might be wondering how this weapon was a benefit. Well it wasn’t a benefit to those who it was used against, but it greatly benefited the user of this biological weapon. Ways to use this weapon include: dropping a bomb packed with plague infested fleas into the targeted area and using a catapult a fling plague infested bodies over castle walls.

The Black Death killed many, but since many workers were killed, the value of labor increased dramatically. This was extremely profitable for the hard working peasants. With a shortage of workers, peasant could now bargain about working conditions, times and wages. Since the plague killed many farmers, there was also a shortage of food. The increased wages for the peasants helped them buy food.

By the Dark Ages, Europe’s population had grown enormously. Europe’s population would have grown much larger if it wasn’t for the plague. If Europe’s population grew too large, the people there would not have enough food to eat or enough space to live on. Fortunately, the plague wiped out about one-third of Europe’s gigantic population. Some see this as a bad thing, but in reality, it is actually a benefit.

The Black Plague is viewed by most as a disaster, but it was more than that; it also benefited many things and people. It helped people in wars, it helped people earn money to buy food and it even helped contain Europe’s population. Even though the Black Death was one of the worst disasters ever, it was also one of the best.

The Black Plague was used to make biological weapons


This depicts the whole scene
The guy on the left is a plague doctor. He is on the way to visit a patient.
The guy on the right is a victim of some fleas carrying the disease. You can see a small flea on him.

In this picture, the rat is in the corner of a room. On him, there is a flea.

This is a plague victim. He as reached the stage where he has red rashes and spots on his skin. Death will arrive soon!

This is a flea that is flying around in the room. It is looking for a new victim to give the disease to.




By Benjamin Fu 8B