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25 Million Dead: The Black Death

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The Black Death swept through Europe from 1347 to 1350, killing what is estimated to be up to half of Europe’s population. Because of the bad sanitation in Europe at the time, the plague was hard to eliminate. The plague was spread through a flea called the Oriental Rat Flea. It appeared in three forms, the bubonic, pneumonic, and the septicemic, each form killing in a different way. They were each caused by a bacterium known as Yersinia pestis. The bubonic plague, the most common form of the disease, had a mortality rate of up to 75%. The pneumonic plague, the second most common form of the disease, affected the lungs. The mortality rate of the pneumonic plague reached 95%, though if treated today it would only be about 5-10%. The least common form, the septicemic plague, was also the most fatal, with a mortality rate that reached almost 100%, and even today there is no treatment. The Black Death also got its name from this from of the plague, as it made its victims skin turn a shade of dark purple. The Black Death was an extremely deadly disease that killed many in Europe during the 14th century.
The Black Death was transmitted in 2 different ways. The first was directly through the infected fleas bite. Humans, fleas, and rats were possible hosts for the disease. The flea would first bite an infected rat and become a carrier of the disease. Then, the flea would continue to bite a human, who would contract the plague. The bubonic and the septicemic plagues were transmitted this way. The pneumonic plague, however, was spread through droplets of saliva from an infected person that were coughed or sneezed into the air. When another person breathed in the saliva droplets, the bacterium would enter the new person’s body and attack their lungs and throat in the form of the pneumonic plague.
Not only was the population in Europe affected by the outbreak of the Black Death, but the economy and many aspects of daily life in Europe, as well. For example, art was changed irreversibly after the outbreak. Art during the time portrayed morbid images such as skeletons, corpses, and diseased people, and artists abandoned artwork that idolized the Christian religion. Also, the way time was spent changed. Many people spent time looking for explanations or trying to fight off the disease. Deaths became a joke, and eventually funerals were abandoned altogether. This negligence to the economy proved to be very damaging, possibly so damaging that some say it took more then centuries for Europe to recover fully.

The Christian religion is often seen as being a group that suffered among the most during the outbreak. The church promised cures and treatments to the plague, but didn’t have any. The priests and bishops did not have any answers to give to the people. Many people prayed for forgiveness, thinking that the plague was a punishment for something. When the plague finally ended, many people revolted against the church, having lost faith in the Christian religion. Thus, the church was greatly impacted by the outbreak.
The Black Death killed an estimated 25 million citizens of Europe, naming it one of the most deadly diseases to ever hit the planet next to Smallpox and the Spanish Flu. It had a substantial affect on the economy and daily life of the people in Europe, especially on art. It also affected the religious faith of many people, as religion didn’t give any answers about the deadly plague that was killing millions Europe. The effects the Black Death have left are some that can never be undone, and it took hundreds of years for Europe to recover from the devastation.





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SUPERMANDwightHoward said...
Jun. 11, 2010 at 8:31 pm

I like this article however you could say the recovery actually took about 50 years, yes the feudal socity was never at its height again however it opened up a new middle class which improved the quality of life for serfs. It did lead to the postponment of the renaissance which is what most people say was a lack of recovery, however these new enhancments to feudal society should be considered recovery.This seems very well reasearched. (I love middl ages/renaissance history.)

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