The Black Death Essay

2032 words - 8 pages

The Black Death

In the early 1330s an outbreak of a deadly disease occurred called the bubonic plague. The plague mainly affects rodents, but fleas can transmit the disease to people. Once people are infected, they can infect others rapidly. The plague causes fever and painful swelling of the lymph glands called buboes, which is how it got its name. The disease also causes spots on the skin that are red at first and turn black (Encarta).
China was one of the busiest of the worlds trading nations, it was only a matter of time before the outbreak of the plague in China spread to western Asia and Europe. In October of 1347, several Italian merchant's ships returned from a trip to the Black Sea, one of the key links in trade with China. When the ships docked Sicily, many of those on board were already dying of the plague. Within days the disease spread to the city and the surrounding countryside. To give an example of what it would be like to live during around the time of the plague:
"Realizing what a deadly disaster had come to them, people quickly drove the Italians from their city. But the disease remained, and soon death was everywhere. Fathers abandoned their sick sons. Lawyers refused to come and make out wills for the dying. Friars and nuns were left to care for the sick, and monasteries and convents were soon deserted, and they were stricken too. Bodies were left in empty houses, and there was no one to give them a Christian burial (Shrewsbury 25)."
The disease struck and killed people with terrible speed. The Italian writer Boccaccio said its victims often "ate with their friends and dinner with their ancestors in paradise (Shrewsbury 27)."
By the following August, the plague had spread as far north as England, where people called it "The Black Death" because of the black spots it produced on the skin. A terrible killer was loose across Europe, and Medieval medicine had nothing to combat it.
In the winter, the disease seemed to disappear, but only because fleas, which were now helping to carry it from person to person, were soon dormanting then. Each spring, the plague attacked again, killing new victims. After five years twenty-five million people were dead one-third of European people (Encarta).
Even when the worst was over smaller outbreaks continued, not just for years, but for centuries. The survivors lived in constant fear of the plague's return, and the disease did not disappear until the 1600s (Campbell 44).
Medieval society never recovered from the result of the plague. So many people had died, which led to serious labor shortages all over Europe. This led workers to demand higher wages, but landlords refused those demands (Campbell 45). By then end of the 1300s peasants revolts broke out in England, France, Belgium and Italy, thus showing that economics control history.
The disease took its toll on the church as well. People throughout Christendom had prayed devoutly for deliverance...

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