Plague: the Black Death in Europe

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The Black Death began in Europe in 1347 and had an estimated death toll if 75 to 200 million people. The Black Death, also known as the Bubonic Plague was carried by fleas living on the back of rats, which were normally found on the merchant ships.

The plague reached Sicily in October 1347. People gathered on the docks were met with sailors aboard the ships were dead, and those still alive were gravely ill, and covered in black boils that had blood and pus.

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The authorities ordered the ships out of the harbor, but it was too late, throughout the next 5 years, The Black Death went on to kill anywhere between 75 to 200 million people.

The doctors in Medieval Europe had no real understanding of the The Black Death or how is was spreading so fast. Methods that were used to attempt to prevent The Black Death, were bathing in urine or vinegar, or putting dead animals, which were known as stinks, in and around the home. Other people believed that pleasant smells was the way to prevent themselves from getting the plague, they would fill their home with plants and flowers. If you were infected with the plague there was ways to help prevent the plague from resulting in death. Methods such as wearing lucky charms, the ringing of church bells and dancing. People even turned to witchcraft to prevent death.

Day 1 consisted of Painful swelling called buboes, these showed up in areas like the armpits and groin. The bubo would be about the size of an egg and could even get as big as a baseball. Day 2 consisted of vomiting and fevers and headaches that would cause severe pain. Day 3 dark blotches would appear all over the body. This was caused by bleeding under the skin. Day 4 the disease attacked the nervous system, this causes multiple spasms and created a lot of pain for the person infected. Day 5 the buboes would burst to leave behind a terrible smelling black puss.

Buboes were often full of blood and puss. When this stage occurs the victim suffered a painful death. There were many ways people would try and prevent themselves and others from catching this deadly virus, such would include, Carrying some herbs and hold them at their nose at all times.

Pray to God and ask him for his forgiveness. Bury or burn the clothes of the plague victims. Burn sweet smelling wood in their houses. Run away from infected areas. Force the sick out of the village. Lockdown trade in and out, nobody was allowed in or out of the area. Lock people in their homes to keep the sickness from spreading. The Black Death was a hard time to live through to many people you know and love pass away.

People also invented different cures that they thought might help. They would take a live frog put its belly on the plague sore. The frog will then swell up burst. They would repeat this process until the frogs stopped bursting. They would also take a hot knife and cut into the “bubos” letting the blood and pus out. This also closed up the wound. The Black Death was a catastrophic event in Europe’s history. It had both devastating immediate effects and deep long-term consequences. Historians, however, have not agreed on the extent of the Black Death’s effects on the development of medicine and medical practices in Europe.

Some historians credit it with revealing the general failure of medieval medicine and how their interpretation on medicine and curing the sick, was not entirely effective. Catching this deadly virus was horrifying and very painful. Symptoms would include starting to feel cold and tired, painful swelling would arise. “Buboes” could be seen under their armpits and groin. Small blisters would arise as well, they would appear all over the body. Headaches and high fever would often cause them to go unconscious for days right before death.

After getting The Bubonic Plague, there was also a chance of getting The Pneumonic Plague, this was easily spread, because the plague would attack peoples lungs, causing many severe breathing problems. People would begin to cough up blood. Those known to have this pneumonic plague died much faster than those with the bubonic plague. This form of The Black Death was spread by people either breathing or coughing onto each other. People often thought that the reason behind The Black Death was beacause of the way the planets and suns had moved and aligned.

Many more reasons that were was believed to be the cause behind it was, God and the Devil, Bad Smells, and Invisible fumes or poisons in the air. Scientists today found out what had actually caused the very deadly Black Death. The Bubonic Plague was spread via fleas which lived on the backs of black rats. These fleas would suck the rat’s blood which contained the plagues germs, When the rats die the fleas would then jump onto humans, and repeat the process, they would suck the human’s blood, which then contaminated the bloodstream, and passing on the deadly disease.

The plague arrived when 12 ships from the Black Sea docked at the Sicilian port. The people came together at the docks and were met with sailors most dead and really ill. Those that were still alive were covered in black boils, called buboes. The authorities immediately ordered the ships out of the docks. It was too late.

The Black Death then went on to kill more than 200 million people and wipe out 40% of Europe’s population. All of the cures and beliefs show, that during the Black Death there was a time for progress in medicine. They thought such supernatural things such as God and the Devil. They believed that they did something wrong and they were paying for it. Beliefs that included the killing of animals which happens to be the natural predator of the Rats. As the numbers of animals such as cats declined, the number of rats increased.

The Black Death gave them an opportunity to progress in medicine. Giving them a sense of maybe killing cats and whipping each other is not working. They also tried other things such as herbal remedies in hope to find a cure to the deadly plague. The Black Death sent physicians scrambling to both develop treatments for the plague and take measures to secure their status at the top of the medical hierarchy by producing writings on the plague and pushing for the regulation of medical practices.

The Black Death is the middle of three great waves of plague that have hit in historical times. The first appeared in the 6th century during the reign of the Byzantine emperor Justinian, reaching his capital, Constantinople, on grain ships from Egypt. The Justinian plague, as historians call it, is thought to have killed perhaps half the population of Europe and to have eased the Arab takeover of Byzantine provinces in the Near East and Africa.

The third great wave of plague began in China’s Yunnan province in 1894, emerged in Hong Kong and then spread via shipping routes throughout the world. It reached the United States through a plague ship from Hong Kong that docked at Hawaii, where plague broke out in December 1899, and then San Francisco, whose plague epidemic began in March 1900. Open almost any textbook on western civilization and it will claim that the Black Death felled one-third of Europe’s population.

In fact, in some places such as a village on an estate in Cambridgeshire manorial rolls attest that 70% of its tenants died in a matter of months in 1349, and the city of Florence tax records drawn up shortly before and after the Black Death suggest that its toll may have been about the same in 1348. Yet, the plague skipped over or barely touched other villages, even within Cambridgeshire, and may not have infected at all vast regions such as ones in northern German-speaking lands.

Given the state of record-keeping and preservation, we will probably never be able to estimate the Black Death’s European toll with any precision. Medieval people called the catastrophe of the l4th century the “Great Pestilence.” The Black Death is the name later given to the epidemic of plague that took Europe by storm. The Black Death is categorized into three specific types of plagues, bubonic plague (infection in the lymph nodes, or buboes), the pneumonic plague (the infection in the lungs), and septicemic plague (the infection in the blood and the most deadly of the three).

Scientists and historians at the beginning of the 20th century assumed that the Black Death was an outbreak of the same diseases, caused by a bacterium called Yersinia pestis and spread by fleas with the help of black rats. The Black Death reached Italian shores in the spring of 1348. The presence of such a plague was enormously devastating making its mark with the highest numbers in recorded history. According to records, it is estimated to have killed a third of Europe’s population. This plague was one of the most devastating plagues in human history, peaking in Europe between 1348 and 1350.

The Black Death is estimated to have killed 30-60 percent of Europe’s population, reducing the world’s population from an estimated 450 million to between 350 and 375 million in 1400. This has been seen as having created a series of religious, social and economic upheavals, which had profound effects on the course of European history. The Black Death that spread in Europe during the late 1340s and killed about half of the population was perhaps the worst period in European history. The plague swept over Europe, ravaged cities causing widespread hysteria and death.

One-third of the population of Europe died. Although both the Europeans and the Empires of Islam experienced the Black Death, each region had different responses and reasons for the causes of the disease. Empires of Islam viewed the plague as a blessing from God while Europeans believed it was a punishment from Him. The Black Death was God’s punishment. A plague is a bacterial infection that can take on more than one form. One of the greatest plagues that have stricken mankind throughout history was the Black Death. This plague was the most severe plague that hit the earth because of its origin and the spread, the symptoms, and the effects of the plague. Scientists and historians are still unsure about the origins of the The Black Death. It was a very deadly disease. It would painfully bring you to a slow miserable death. In the 1300s people were struck with a great plague, which has now been named “The Black Death”. The Black Death killed off populations with just one sweep. Historians call this the biggest tragedy of all time.

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Plague: The Black Death in Europe. (2019, Jul 15). Retrieved from