Free Essay

Black Death Final

In: Historical Events

Submitted By kbogs11
Words 973
Pages 4
Black Death Coming out of the East, the Black Death reached the shores of Italy in the spring of 1348 unleashing a rampage of death across Europe unprecedented in recorded history. By the time the epidemic played itself out three years later, anywhere between twenty-five percent and fifty percent of Europe's population had fallen victim to the pestilence. The Black Death will forever go down in history as a great turning point for civilization. Some thought that moderate living and the avoidance of all luxury would preserve them from the epidemic. They formed small communities, living entirely separate from everybody else. They shut themselves up in houses where there were no sick, eating the finest food and drinking the best wine very temperately, avoiding all excess, allowing no news or discussion of death and sickness, and passing the time in music and other pleasures. Others thought just the opposite. They thought the sure cure for the plague was to drink and be merry, to go about singing and amusing themselves, satisfying every appetite they could, laughing and jesting at what happened. They put their words into practice, spent day and night going from tavern to tavern, drinking immoderately, or went into other people's houses, doing only those things which pleased them. This they could easily do because everyone felt doomed and had abandoned their property, so that most houses became common property and any stranger who went in made use of them as if he had owned them. The Black Death led to cynicism toward religious officials who could not keep their promises of curing plague victims and banishing the disease. No one, the Church included, was able to cure or even explain the plague. In fact, most thought it spread somehow through air, calling it miasma. This increased doubt in the clergy's abilities. Extreme alienation of the church culminated in either support for different religious groups, such as the flagellants, which grew tremendously during the opening years of the Black Death, or to an increase in interest for more secular alternatives to problems facing European society and an increase of secular politicians. The Black Death hit the monasteries very hard because of their close quarters and their kindness in helping the sick, so that there was a severe shortage of clergy after the epidemic cycle. This resulted in a mass influx of new clergy members, most of whom did not share the life-long convictions and experiences of the veterans they replaced. This resulted in abuses by the clergy in years afterwards and a further deterioration of the position of the Church in the eyes of the people. Historians often divide European history into periods before and after the plague. There are several persuasive reasons for doing so. First, the population declined sharply—and then rebounded. Both the loss and the replenishment of the population had significant effects on all aspects of society, from agriculture to family structure to military adventuring. Second, influential writers, such as the English clergyman Thomas Malthus (1766–1834), would propose that overpopulation produces its own remedy through epidemic, famine, and other means. Some areas of Europe might have been considered ripe for mass death because agricultural production had not kept up with population growth. The overpopulation theory has been criticized as inadequate to explain the catastrophic effects of the Black Death. Nevertheless, concerns about overpopulation in more recent times were foreshadowed by analysis of the plague years. Third, feudalism—the political and social structure then prevalent in Europe—may have been the underlying cause of the mass mortality. A few people had everything; most people had very little. Those born into the lower classes had little opportunity for advancement. This situation perpetuated a large underclass of mostly illiterate people with limited skills, thereby also limiting technological and cultural progress. Furthermore, the feudal system was showing signs of collapsing from within in the years preceding the Black Death. In his 1995 book The Black Death and the Transformation of the West, David Herlihy explained: The basic unit of production was the small peasant farm, worked with an essentially stagnant technique. The only growth the system allowed was . . . the multiplication of farm units . . . subject to the law of diminishing returns. As cultivation extended onto poorer soils, so the returns to the average family farm necessarily diminished. . . . As peasant income diminished, they paid lower and lower rents. . . . The lords took to robbery and pillage . . . and also hired themselves out as mercenaries . . . and pressured their overlords, notably the king, to wage wars against their neighbors. (Herlihy 1995, p. 36) The almost continuous wars of the Middle Ages were attempts by hard-pressed nobles to snatch wealth from each other as well as grab whatever the peasants had left. The decline and crisis of the feudal system, then, probably did much to make people especially vulnerable to the plague, while the aftereffects of the plague would make feudal society even more of a losing proposition. Finally, the devastating and immediate impact of the Black Death prepared the way for a reconstruction of society. Deserted towns and vacant church and governmental positions had to be filled with new people. At first the demand was specific: more physicians, more clergy, and—of special urgency—more gravediggers were needed. The demand for new people to move into key positions throughout society opened the door for many who had been trapped in the ancient feudal system. It was also a rare opportunity for women to be accepted in positions of responsibility outside of the home (e.g., as witnesses in court proceedings). People who lacked "social connections" now could find more attractive employment; merit had started to challenge social class membership. These developments fell far short of equality and human rights as understood today, but they did result in significant and enduring social change.

Similar Documents

Free Essay

Black Death

...David Routt argues “The Black Death was the largest demographic disaster in European history”, and rightfully so. Since its arise in 1347, it had been responsible for the death of roughly 17-28 million people in Europe, which accounted for about half the European population. Due to the sudden deaths of many people, the economy was drastically affected, and gave rise to many changes in the years to come. The most important economic impacts of the Black Death include a decrease in trade and “dislocation of the demand for goods”., “a much smaller agricultural labor pool”, villages were de-urbanized, and inflation. A decrease in trade occurred due to Europe losing a vast number of its laboring force. This meant that farm labor was unavailable to plant and tend crops. Supply decreased, and prices for goods rose. Businessmen saw this and reshaped their businesses in order to meet the demands of potential customers. What worked in their favor was the increase of “the gross volume of luxury goods manufactured and sold”. Furthermore, due to the agricultural pool decreasing, “the rural worker indeed demanded and received higher payments in nominal wages”. Even though there were higher payments given, people were still intrigued by the plague and city dwellers moved to the country to avoid the disease. Many in the country moved to the cities in hopes of getting employment. The times were suitable for inflation and in many countries the governments stepped in to bring the economies back...

Words: 359 - Pages: 2

Free Essay

The Black Death

...Black Death I am going to be writing about the causes and the consequences of the Black Death in the 14th century. The Black Death lasted for about 3 years between 1348 and 1350. The Black Death was an incurable disease and over 20 million men, women and children had died across Europe. It was believed the sailors had brought the disease back from the black sea. The disease arrived in Italy from the east and the deadly disease was carried on the food. The disease was blisters were forming under the arms, faces, legs or any were warm on the body and the people died a week later. The disease started spreading country to country by trade routes these would have been fruits and vegetables, bakery and every day stalls in the towns and bleed. This had caused another outbreak of the disease in other areas of the country; they wanted to suffer the same as what Jesus did to appease God. The community believed that the disease was a punishment sent down by God himself. They prayed daily for recovery and a shield to protect them. As more and more people died from the disease people are starting to lose the belief in God. The community expected death if they got infected by the disease. No one communicated in the society in case they got infected by the deadly disease. So the community locked themselves away in their homes with all windows and doors locked, from those that were infected to stop the spread going further....

Words: 259 - Pages: 2

Premium Essay

The Black Death

...The Black Death was in Europe during 1347 and ended in 1351. The Black Death took many lives in Europe during the renaissance. During the 5 years of terror the Black Death took 20 million lives. The Black Death was a major event because of the huge death toll it collected by the end of it all. The plague took 20 million lives in Europe which was almost one third of the population. The plaque arrived by sea in October 1347 when twelve Genoese trading ships docked in Messina after a long trip on the Black Sea. The sailors who survived the trip were greatly ill and this came as a surprised to the people who were at the dock to greet them. The ill had fevers, could not keep food down, and were delirious from pain. The weirdest part of it all was the black boils on their skin the oozed out blood and pus. The Sicilian authorities made the ships leave immediately but it was too late and the Black Death would terrorize Europe for the next five years. The Black Death was highly contagious many believed that even the touching of clothes would spread the disease. Many people believed the disease was a divine punishment from god because of all the sinning that was going on during the time period. Many believed that to make the plague go away they needed to be forgiving by god and they thought they could do this by getting of trouble makers and heretics and many Jews were massacred during 1348 and 1349. The plague just seemed to go away because everyone had died or been exposed......

Words: 418 - Pages: 2

Free Essay

Black Death

...between 1300 to 1650. For many peasants, their lives could be depicted as overwhelming, depressing, discouraging, and hopeless; yet, many events during these 350 years opened up opportunities for the peasantry to improve their lives. Events ranging from the Hundred Years War to the Black Death, and up until the beginning years of the Renaissance, changed the lives of the peasantry dramatically, all for the better. Before the Black Death reached Europe, peasants’ lives were very difficult. They usually never left the manor on which they served without the master’s permission. It was illegal for them to even move to another city or manor, if they so desired. They were forced to pay rent to their landlords for the land they cultivated themselves. In addition to the rent that was required of them, “they were also required to provide free labor on the lands used by the lord, known as a demesne.”[1] Although there were rewards to living on a manor, the peasantry had more advantages when the manorial system began to break down at the beginning of the fourteenth century. Even though the nobility still dominated rural Europe, peasants were beginning to move out of their status as servants. The Black Death, striking Italy in 1347, was one of the events that began to shape the lives of the peasantry. It is seen throughout history as one of the worst epidemics to ever hit the European nations. Later it became known as “the greatest natural catastrophe ever to strike Europe and one of......

Words: 2275 - Pages: 10

Free Essay

Black Death

...and Age related to the Distribution of the Black Death: The Black Death has been considered one of the most deadly and terrifying epidemics in human history, killing over 30% of the Chinese population as well as 30-50% of the European population. Starting in 1347 and lasting through 1351, the Black Death epidemic rapidly spread, first starting in China and Central Asia and then moving westward. The Black Death has been extensively researched by thousands of historians, scientists, demographers and anthropologists and based on decades of research; the spread of the disease is believed to have originated from the Yersinia Pestis bacterium. The Yersinia Pestis bacterium is commonly found in flees which originates in the skin of various ground rodents. The bacterium comes in three forms bubonic, septicemic, and pneumonic. It initially spread from trading vessels and then to cities, villages, and eventually the countryside. The plague arouse so fast, people didn’t know what to do and assumed leaving their home was the best option, when in reality it caused even more of a problem. The effects of the plague lasted several decades after it was gone by causing major social, cultural, and economic problems all over the world. Despite all of the studies, researchers still have many questions on why and how the disease chose its victims and how it escalated so quickly. In order to understand the sexual mortality pattern of the Black Death plague one must look at two questions......

Words: 2183 - Pages: 9

Premium Essay

Black Death

...Black Death The Black Death was a devastation full of effects that led to a new revolution all around Europe. The major impact of Black Death was on the economy of the continent. Due to the shortages of labor, the wages increased to a high level. The population loss in Black Death also led to the prices of common commodities like wheat to decrease as well. With the shortage of labor and limited resources, the industry owners had to enhance their working methods. Therefore, an impact of the Black Death was the emergence of inventions that improved the way of life. Some would argue that this pandemic also lead to unequal distribution of wealth as to those who could grab opportunities went to be richer. Thus another impression of the plague was an increased gap between the rich and the poor. The way of life was enhanced for people around Europe and the women in Europe also went on join the working force. It is no surprise that Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in history. The plague burst out and started off the in winter of 1347-1348. The source of Black Death was traced back to the wild rodents of the steppes of central Asia even as far as Asia or China. Apart from China, some trace its origin back to Kurdistan and Iraq.1 The main concern wasn’t where it started but how it actually spread through the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. The plague first appeared in China and reached Crimea in 1346; from there it travelled to Constantinople and Sicily......

Words: 3076 - Pages: 13

Premium Essay

The Black Death

...The Black Death One of the most important factors that shaped medieval literature was the Black Death. It left the country barren and desolate, without farmers to provide for the nobles, without monarchs to govern the people, and without officers of the law to prevent crimes. The Black Death crippled the European economy and hierarchy leaving the countries without people educated enough to read and most certainly not educated enough to write. Who knows what literary works would have been written had it not been for the plague and the rate at which it devastated. The Black Death caused, prevented, and interrupted many works of literature. The Black Death, a plague on humanity capable of wiping out one fourth of Europe’s one hundred million people in the course of five years, made its mark between the years 1347 and 1351 (Marks). During that time, three types of plague were to have know to exist: Bubonic, septicemic, and pneumonic (Marks). Although bubonic variant of the plague took the most time to kill it was still the most deadly simply due to it being the most widespread of the three (Marks). The bubonic plague got its name from the numerous buboes or cancer like growths that would develop on the victim’s armpit and groin (Marks). Another symptom that accompanied the growths was the presence of a constant fever. The buboes were swelled lymph glands as a result of the body’s lymphatic system trying to fight the disease. Basically, they were pockets of the......

Words: 1298 - Pages: 6

Free Essay

The Black Death

...The Black Death As it happened: The Black Death 1. List the symptoms of the black death.      Flu-like fever Pus-filled buboes or tumours appear in the neck, groin and armpits – these turn blue/purple over time Haemorrhaging (internal bleeding) which causes blue-purple blotches to appear under the skin (like bruising) Coughed up blood and vomited a lot 50% of those who caught the disease died in 2-7 days 2. Name three ways that medieval Europeans believed the plague was spread.      By inhaling bad smells By looking into the eyes of a person who was infected Spread across the sea by an evil, magical wind from India By thinking too hard about it Through contact with infected people or travellers 3. Name three things that medieval Europeans did to try and avoid or treat the plague.     Avoid sleeping on just one side, so that fluid would not build up in the lungs Mix sweet-smelling flowers with human faeces to make a medical paste, then put this on the buboes Avoid contact with infected individuals by quarantining them in their homes Kept sweet-smelling herbs or flowers to protect themselves from bad smells (which were thought to spread disease) 4. Why did the Black Death first appear in large cities?  Because cities attracted merchants from all over Europe, and there were lots of people living close together 5. Who spread the Black Death through Europe?  Anyone who travelled around Europe: o Merchants and sailors o Soldiers o Pilgrims Year 8......

Words: 527 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

Black Death

...Ashleigh Hamilton The Black Death A catastrophic event that changed the way medical science would function thereafter was the Black Death or the Bubonic Plague that hit Asia and Europe back in the 14th Century. At the Sicilian Port of Messina, back in 1350, a ship arrived after going through a tedious journey in the Black Sea. The ship brought with it some dead and some ailing sailors, inflicted by a strange disease that had caused black boils on their skins which were pus filled and oozed blood out, giving the mysterious illness the name of the Black Death. Spread by a germ called YersinaPestis, the Black Death was a disease that spread from one person to another through the air, through water droplets or moisture or by the bite and infestation of rodents such as rats. Rats were thought to be the main carriers of the disease as they had travelled by ship and had supposedly contaminated the food the sailors had on the ship,or they suffered from rat bites. The disease was spread in Europe shortly after it hit the coasts of Messina, making its way through Italy, France as these pests were commonly found there. By the mid of the 14th century, the Black Death was rampant in Paris, London and other adjoining parts of the country. The biggest crisis of the time was the lack of knowledge and understanding about how the disease got transmitted from one person to another. Moreover, there was no idea in Europe about how the disease could be cured or prevented, and there...

Words: 1417 - Pages: 6

Premium Essay

Black Death

...Between the years of 1348 and 1350 Europe, and more specifically England, was struck by a pandemic that we know of today as the Bubonic Plague or the Black Death. England was stuck by this pandemic six more times before the end of the 14th century leaving its citizens terrified of when the disease will hit next and in what village or town it is approaching. This disease proved to be extremely contagious and resulted in the death of roughly one third to one half of Europe’s entire population. Nearly all victims that contracted this disease died within three days. The actual cause of this disease went unknown for centuries but during the 1800’s scientist began to develop theories on its origin. During the mid fourteenth century prior to the first outbreak, Europe had a growing population as well as technological growth. Hygiene was not yet recognized and as a result of this people began to dump their wastes into the street resulting in a breeding ground for bacteria and parasites. They had no legitimate method of sanitation for the cities at this point and in turn the streets were left with the perfect environment for a transmissible disease to spread. The waste also attracted more than just germs, it led to a greater population of rats. The filth of the streets was the perfect environments for the rats to continually breed and increase there numbers at an alarming rate. It was previously believed that rats were the main cause of the disease (that as well as a......

Words: 1084 - Pages: 5

Free Essay

The Black Death

...Timeline The Black Death Begins in China in 1333- Destroys 2/3, about five million Chinese people were hit by this plague. Since China was known as one of the busiest world trading nations. It was only a matter of time before the outbreak of China spread through Western Asia and Europe. Arrives in Europe 1347- The Black Death appeared in Europe during October 1347 in Messina, Sicily. It arrived through trading ships that was very likely to come from the Black Sea. As soon as the people of Messina had realized the horrible sickness was coming from these ships, they quickly expelled themselves from the port Reaches England 1348- reached Bristol England, plague arrived in the summer months of August or around that time. King Edward III Daughter Died due to plague Sept 2 1348- His favorite daughter Joan Plantagenet. Arrives in London Nov 1st 1348-The hygiene in London was poor and the living conditions were unbelievably dirty and disgusting. England cities with dirty living conditions and overloaded amount of people, leading to a quick spread of the disease. Between the years of 1348 and 1350, the disease killed about 30 to 40% of England’s population which was estimated to be about five to six million. King Edward III orders the streets to be cleaned of the dead bodies -1349 Germany 1349 – 3000 Jews killed in Erfurt, Germany because of the Black Death. There were almost no Jews left in Germany in 1351. Approximately 200 people buried a day- February 1349, they were......

Words: 305 - Pages: 2

Free Essay

The Black Death

...Benedictow,O. J (2005) “The Black Death: The Greatest Catastrophe Ever”, History Today, Vol. 55, No. 3, Retrieved from: http://www.historytoday.com/ole-j-benedictow/black-death-greatest-catastrophe-ever In this article “The Black Death: The Greatest Catastrophe Ever” examines how the Black Death killed over 50 million people in the 14 century, or at least 60 percent of Europe’s entire population. This article refers to the Black Death as a disastrous mortal disease and how it’s spread in Europe around 1346-53 transformed and frightened society. The article explains that the Black Death was in fact an epidemic of bubonic plague. This is a disease that was caused by the bacterium Yersinia Pestis that circulates among wild rodents where they live in great numbers and density. The Black Death territorial spread changed and restructured Europe’s society by its rapid transportation; according to the article the disease moved an average of 600km in a fortnight by ship. I strongly believe this article will prove to be beneficial to the formation of my paper because it examines and explores key concerns in connection to the rapid spreading of the Black Death resulting in millions dying. This article provides information as to what exactly the Black Death was during this time, what resulted in Europe’s population being affected by it and how it was transported. This article will provide in detail information as to how this plague affected society and the length of time it took to...

Words: 288 - Pages: 2

Premium Essay

Black Death

...Impact of Black Death HIS 103 World Civilizations Donnie Burnette April 4th 2011 The Impact of Black Death Black Death was known by several names such as Black Death, the Bubonic Plague and the Black plague. Regardless of what you call it, it was one of the world’s worst pandemic in history. This plague tore through Europe destroying villages and communities. The immediate impact was fear, chaos, and complete devastation, the long term effect proved to improve economics and societies. Black Death spread through Europe beginning in 1346 and ending in 1353. Seven years of “unexplained” deaths, the plague chose no race, color, age or gender it attacked and killed 50 million people or 60% of the population (Benedictou 2005). Symptoms of the plague began with swollen glands in the neck, armpits, and groin areas. Internal bleeding gave the skin a blackened coloring earning the name “Black Death”. Other symptoms range from red blotching of the skin “rosies” Once bitten these would appear within a couple days and the victim would die within a week. Even a more powerful strain of this plague was the pneumonic plague; this version went directly to the lungs and respiratory systems. Now not only was this......

Words: 982 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

The Black Death

...The Black Death Ashford University World Civilizations I Todd HIS 103 February 21, 2012 The Black Death Another name for the Middle Ages is “The Dark ages” which was an era of inventors, discovery and trade. China’s ports were a renowned place for traders as many would travel around the world to trade goods. at the docks, thousands of people eagerly waiting for ships to return looking for goods from distant places. In October 1347, trading ships docked at the Sicilian port of Messina after a long journey through the Black Sea (Black Death, n.d.). Greeters, who were waiting anxiously for goods discovered something horrific. Many sailors on the ships were dead and the rest who made it through the journey were quickly dying as well. Not only goods came back from China but also came flea-infested rats, which is the source of the bubonic plague. Another distinctive name for the plague was the Black Death; this particular plague had a discerning effect on the history of Europe producing a sequence of social, religious, and economic catastrophe. This plague killed over half of Europe’s people. Spreading all over Europe and Asia, the Black Death was spreading fast. Victims of the Black Death suffered fevers, weren’t able to digest their food, and became delirious because of the pain. Unknown black boils oozing blood and pus are where the plague got its name. The Black Death ravaged through cities that caused a widespread of hysteria and death. This was an......

Words: 1607 - Pages: 7

Premium Essay

Black Death

...The Impact of the Black Death From the point of view of developing a pest and control methods, the manifestation of the plague in Europe historically known as "Black Death", “ fever " or "Bubonic plague" among other epithets, is a particular example of why a pest or plague can be developed and how can it be controlled. In this specific case, the plague is used to expand from the general conditions of a concrete reality, and disappears spontaneously when these conditions vary, these circumstances promoted behavioral changes to encourage changes in behavior and domestic actions of man, which in turn caused such a change of environment that disfavored the transcendence of the plague, which has its ultimate manifestation in the Old Continent nearly four hundred years after his arrival in Europe. Some people consider this event as the worst of the epidemics that affected man in its history. Although historically it has been established that the disease was bubonic plague acting with pneumonic and septicemic variants, some researchers attribute the high mortality registered to more than one disease, they base their statements and even in our times, by studying bones from graves that in which tradition is known to have been buried victims of the plague , in some cases there was no evidence of bubonic plague and its variants in one hand and in the other hand traces of other diseases such as Anthrax were found. What is certain and beyond doubt is that this epidemic ends......

Words: 1901 - Pages: 8