The Spread of the Black Death

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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The Black Death was a catastrophic event that caused many people to die, because of 3 different strains of plague. The plague was so strong it killed almost 60 percent of Europe’s population, around 25 million people. The most common plague people would get was the Bubonic plague. The Bubonic plague is a bacterial infection that is transmitted by fleas or rodents, causing inflammation in the victim’s lymph node. It presented swollen lymph nodes that grew as large as a chicken’s egg that grew on the groin, armpit, as well as on the neck.

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The other two strands of plague were the Pneumonic and Septicemic plagues, both having almost a hundred percent death rate. Pneumonic plague is caused when the bacteria spread to the lungs, causing people to cough initiating the person to person spread of disease. The Septicemic plague is spread through the bloodstream and causing the multiplication of the bacteria in the blood prohibiting any cure for the person. Many symptoms were presented when being infected by the plague, some of the most common indications were; fever, headaches, and seizures. It also caused most of the infected body parts to turn black, hints to why it’s called the Black Death.

The main reason the outbreak occurred was because the Europeans began to trade with the East. Trading was an important factor of the spreading this disease, because some of the people who were involved with trading were infected with the bacteria or carried it in some of their exports. It is said that the Bubonic plague was spreading at an alarming rate concerning many people that lived in Italy. Most of the Europeans that had heard of the epidemic had no idea what it was and were worried of what the bacteria could cause. People did not know that the bacteria was carried by the rodents and fleas that moved from places to places, neither were ready for the horrible reality that the Black Death was. Sicily was the first location in Europe to encounter the Bubonic plague, to later spread the disease to Marseille along the trade routes. It was not long before the illness started to spread once more, but now at even a greater speed, that in on the year of 1348 it infected six town. Those six towns being Venice, Central Italy, Paris, England, London, and Austria. The plague also continued to spread to among trading routes to Moscow and Germany.

Religion was becoming a speculation among the people. People began to make conspiracies about the plague being a punishment from god simply because they did not understand the biology behind the plague. They said that the only way to make the plague to go away would be to earn God’s forgiveness. To do so people believed they had to purge the communities of heretics and troublemakers. They also came up with the idea that they Jews were contaminating the water for them to get infected. An effect that the Black Death also brought was the action of vengeful Christian burned Jews because of their allegations. Christians instead of going to church and praying began to spread the idea that Jews were causing all this death, therefore they killed the Jew for vengeance.

People tried to many methods to get rid of the plague, but them not knowing what caused the plague, made it worst for the people infected. The forced people to cut themselves open for the infection to get out of their blood. Their reason behind forcing people to cut themselves was that if the disease is in the blood, then the veins leading to the heart must be cut open, allowing the blood to release the bacteria. Another way that the Europeans wanted to get rid of the plague was to control what a person should it, to not get infected with the plague. The diet consisted of no smelly food such as meat, cheese, and fish, but only allowed to eat bread, fruit, and vegetables. Witch craft was also a solution that the Europeans thought of to keep the pestilence out. They decided to place a live hen to the swelling to the draw the pestilence out of the body also to drink a glass of their own urine twice a day. They also tried to treat the plague by killing people and washing their body vinegar and rose water. Lancing the buboes was also an option that European approached to get rid of the Bubonic plague but were unsuccessful on doing so. The tried a combination of tree resin, roots of white lilies and dried human excrement where the body was cut open from the buboes.

At some point noble men joined demos of flagellants that traveled from location to location and engaged in public presentations of self-punishment and punishment. They would beat themselves and one another with heavy leather straps scattered with sharp pieces of metal while the townspeople looked on. For 33 1/2 days, the flagellants repeated this ritual for almost three times a day. Then they would travel to the next town and begin the process over again. Though the flagellant movement did provide some comfort to people who felt incapable in the face of mysterious tragedy, it soon began to concern the Pontiff, whose expert the flagellants had begun to usurp. In the face of this papal resistance, the movement disintegrated. The Black Death epidemic had run its course by the early 1350s, but the plague returned an every few generations for centuries. Modern sanitation and public-health practices have greatly eased the impact of the disease but have not yet eliminated once and for all.

Lastly, the Black Death was important because of the different impacts it had on the world at in the 1300’s and history. Most important impact of the Black Death was the large number of individuals that died. Historians agree that Europe’s population decrease by almost 60 percent in the first several decades of the Black Death, and this had a huge impact on family and social life for communities throughout Europe. Another serious impact that the devastating event was the economic loss or effect that resulted from the spread of the plague. The spread of the plague caused people to get anxiety to be large crowds fearing to get infected. In all, the Black Death was an important event that fundamentally changed life for people across Europe and Asia. It was caused by the spread of the bubonic plague and caused massive death tolls wherever it occurred. It is remembered today as one of the most important pandemics in all human history and for its role in other major events and time periods, such as: The Silk Road, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

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The Spread of the Black Death. (2019, Nov 22). Retrieved from