The Black Death that spread in Europe during the late 1340’s and killed about half of the population was perhaps the worst period in European history and one of the most devastating pandemics in human history (The Black Death). In 1347 A.D., a great plague swept over Europe, ravaged cities causing widespread hysteria and death. One third of the population of Europe died (Ziegler 7). “The impact upon the future of England was greater than upon any other European country.” (The Black Death). The bubonic plague was spreading widely in Europe. It started from East Asia and to be more specific, it started from China (The Plague). Then ships transferred it among the countries of the Mediterranean. The trade between the countries made it worse and made the virus spread faster (Ziegler 13). It can spread simply by contact with other people. Ones are infected; they infect others very rapidly (The Black Death). There are many signs that u could tell if someone was infected, and these signs are black dots on the skin and swelling. Ziegler said ” The plague that raged through Europe in the 1340’s was an important moment in human history as it illustrated how a poorly understood disease could spread easily through an unprepared populace” (Ziegler 15). The people were unprepared for what the people of the middle Ages saw and how they were impacted, and how its devastation led to the fall of the feudal system.
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The bubonic plague reduced the world’s population from an estimate 450 million to between 350 and 375 million in 1400, and Created terrible living conditions (The Plague). Farming decreased and many farmers lost their farms. Rats played a major role in spreading the disease around the world (The Black Death). They came with the trading ships and landed on foreign lands. In a few days, most of Europe was infected. It also came through fleets by the same way. The signs of the virus were black spots on arms and legs, diarrhea, and swelling. The Mongols played a huge part in spreading the virus. They used their dead bodies as a weapon during the war by throwing their dead bodies on enemies over the castle’s wall. This strategy made nearly everyone who lived inside the castle infected with this disease (Ziegler 30). The signs started to show up on the guards and the people inside the castle or the city and those people started dying in a few days. The Black Death eliminated almost half of the population and also affected the economics of the countries that were infected (Ziegler 30). Farming decreased and many farmers lost their farms. This crisis caused the death of many farmers and losing their crops, town population declined, prices rose, and the trade declined and people were still dying a day after another. The Black Death could have brought an end to the human race, because people were dead in three or four days after they got the disease (The Black Death).
The people were panicking and looking for a solution. Defoe said you could see only death in the streets of London (Defoe 594). People were desperate and the first place they turned to looking for help was the Church. Since the Church is a place for answers without questions and the people were wondering where that virus did come from. They thought that the Black Death was sent by God to punish them for their sins (The Black Death). At the beginning they arranged big fires so the pope won’t get infected. But later, they started going against the churches and priests because they felt that what god is doing is wrong (The Black Death). Also they believed it was the end of the world because many people were dying from it. Even though they had big plague pit to bury their deaths (Defoe 594). They also did burn their crops to prevent this crisis, because that was the only way to kill the virus since they don’t have the right medicine for it (Ziegler 67). People believed in cleaning every corner of their homes and buying herbs from the village’s wise woman (The Plague). They also burned houses and bodies, or isolated some people and put them on an island. Their goal was to get rid of that virus and start recovering but they couldn’t do it fast enough even with their ideas which did make some difference (Zielger69). Daniel Defoe described the view of the cities and the people there. He said “people were buried alive by throwing their selves into the plague pit” (Defoe 596).
The Black Death struck socially. The people started a huge mess. The Catholic Church started hating each other, because the pope couldn’t do anything to stop the crisis (Ziegler 120). They hated the Jews conceding them from another religion and they might cause this punishment from God (Ziegler 121). Everyone was infected even the government, and when the government is gone, the law and order will vanish too (The Plague). Violence spread out among people since there were neither police nor a government that can rule (The Plague). The virus took it share in church and people put their blames on the church for not finding a savor or a cure for that disease. The plague would break and destroy every part of the medieval society (The Black Death). Feudalism greatly weakened in that period of time. The Catholic Church failed to prevent these waves of attack against Jews, foreigners, beggars, and lepers. Pope Clement IV was elected to be the pope of the Catholic Church during the period of the plague (The Plague). He believed that human kind needs to explore and fined the cure for this disease (The Plague).
By the end of the 18th century and early 19th century Europe started covering up from the Black Death that struck hard and deeply into European nations. Not for long until a new virus showed up and hit Europe. Now Europe is facing a new problem and started panic among the people. In the 19th century, the Asian cholera was the first of the cholera’s waves that struck European nations (Ziegler 199). The new disease came in and replaced the old one. Some governments used their authorities to prevent spreading the virus, they prohibited exporting goods from other countries and set the prices on them (Ziegler 212). At best, they proved that they have learned from the old crisis and they didn’t want that to happen again, they knew that it started from one country and spread out to the continent. England had the hardest hit land; they couldn’t even buy or export bread from France because of the prohibition that they had set on their trade. The shortage of labor made it hard to have enough grain to make enough bread for the people (Ziegler 213). Any grain or goods that could be shipped from the producer to other country were lost by getting taken by pirates or and it their turn, they would sell it on the black markets and make more money (Ziegler 213). at that time, some of the big nations were using their powers, such as England and Scotland, and started a war called the hundred years war in 1347. (Ziegler 220). That situation got worse by raising the fines and rents of the holds by the monarch land owners. Edward III of England and Philip VI of France chose to raise the rent and fines on the regular slandered living conditions and that would decline high slandered living conditions (Ziegler 224).
The Black Death was the most feared era in human history. It had a bigger effect than World War 2. Loses were in thousands and that was in a short period of time started from the 19th century. The people took their lesson from it and now we don’t see such a threat in our modern life. One of the good things that resulted from the Black Death is reducing the population and set the scientists ready for the future. That prevented them from going back to this crisis and prevented them from that dark time that still until today; people will fear its name. It was one of the worst things that happened to Europe. No wonder it brings horror to people’s heart when they hear the stories of what happened in the past.
Ziegler, Philip. The Black Death. 1st. 4. New York, N.Y, U.S: John Day Company Inc, 1969. 340. EBook.
The plague. The middle ages. http://www.themiddleages.net/plague.html
The Black Death. The Black Death, 1348. http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/plague.com
Defoe, Daniel. “A journal of the Plague Year.” British Literature. Comp. Holt McDougal. 2010. Print.
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