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Ap Euro Plague Dbq

In: Historical Events

Submitted By liambrink
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In the 14th century, a new disease emerged which would later be named the “Black Death”. It originated within central Asia or Northern India, from historians believe. Either way, the disease created panic everywhere in Europe. In October of 1347 traders from Genoese came to the port of Messina. These traders brought the plague along with them. 7 infective waves occurred in Europe between 1347 and 1400, killing between 25 – 50 million people. During this dark era, people were scared and running amuck, no faith, religious or medical professionals did not understand the plague going into other people after infecting others. They believed that the world was nearing its end.
People reacted to the plague with mass fear. For instance, the French Author Nicolas Versoris explains Paris’s situation; “… the rich fled” (Doc 3) while the poor were “porters and wage-earners, who had lived there in large numbers” (Doc 3) were left to die. Nicolas may have been an early noble that would have tried to escape the plague, somewhat pathetic. Those who were poor and infected were confined to their homes or villages; “Whatever house the pestilence visited was immediately nailed up… many died of hunger in their own houses… all roads and highways were guarded so that a person could not pass from one place to another”(Doc 5) as stated by Heinrich von Staden, a rich traveler, may have seen such events. The beliefs of people quickly fell and people lost faith; “what if the sickness should come into this house? Who would I be willing to give up to the disease?”(Doc 8). Many who were still free of the plague were extremely concerned about receiving it and took many precautions. Those that were lucky enough to not be infected yet, were scared for the high probability of becoming infected “nobody will dare to buy any wig, for fear of the infection…”(Doc 13) an English naval officer wrote. Everyone was panicked, not just the nobles or the poor and everything was affected.
Society was in a state of disorder and chaos; many eager workers quickly converted this chaos into lucrative opportunities. Sadly, a large amount of these opportunities required death. An odd case would be at Casale. “… Smeared the bolts of the town gates with an ointment to spread the plague … in order to obtain their inheritances more quickly.”(Doc 4) Johann Weyer reported a German physician. In some diaries it was said some nurses would “… make the patients die more quickly, because the sooner they died, the sooner the nurses collected the fees…”(doc 11) showing the how corrupt the medical system could be when confronted with money. This idea coming from a dairy holds much value due to the actually self reflection and thought of their actions. Many were paid to deal with the sick: “gold for the expense of the pest houses to quarantine the diseased”(Doc 6). Along with these extreme deals, the honest merchants had a bit more trouble. “The trading nations of Europe were all afraid of us; no port of France, or Holland … would admit our ships”(Doc 14). The plague had destroyed any foreign trade that had taken place. Fear of the plague depraved the European economy. Although it did help the middle class due to a higher demand of labor and a focus on internalization instead of foreign trading dependencies. While all of this chaos continued to exist, religiously and medically affiliated personnel tried to explain the plague.
Both physicians and high religious officials tried to explain the plague, but both did not truly know what was happening. Some of the physicians were forced to old practices: “Plague-stricken patients hang around their neck toads, either dead or alive” (Doc 10) Although these were worthless. Luckily, others came closer to the correct answer: “The plague and sickness in England is due to the filth in the streets and the sputum and dog’s urine clogging…” (Doc 2) They had not been schooled enough or knew enough to figure out exactly the cause, but were close. Bertrand, a physician at Marseilles, had no idea what the cause of the plague was, but thought it could be because of a religious reason: “the plague must be considered a particular chastisement exercised by an angry God” (Doc 16). Many people also believed it could have been God, and turned to religion for help: “Sister Angelica… sent me a little piece of bread that touched the body of St. Domenica. I fed it to my husband and suddenly the fever broke.” (Doc 7) this was in the legal disposition of an Italian housewife, whom had no background or studies in medicine, and was not even sure of what the plague was. Many priests caught the plague because they tried to help those with the plague, but only helped to spread it.
The plague seemed to have been a true ill omen of fear and death. But, after many years of undeniable changes the plague had created, many in turmoil, but many were beneficial to European society. To begin with, it created the middle class, because of the lack of labour. The middle class people of this time lived a luxurious life compared to the poor those that were poor, and the middle class began to combat the nobles in many of the renaissance Italian city states. This plague also weakened the church’s power, allowing for monarchies to grow. This growth also allowed for economic development and stronger foreign policies. This growth in monarchy also eventually allowed nationalistic development including economic growth, and strengthened foreign policies.

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