The Black Plague And Its Devastating Impact On Europe

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Back in the year 1346 – 1353, a deadly disease is known as Black Death that is also known as the Bubonic Plague that infects the lymphatic system (part of the immune system), had spread across Europe. People from then felt so much terror because 60 percent of Florence’s population died from the disease in just a few months. The Black Death is a pandemic that terrorized Medieval Europe, specifically during the 13th Century between 1347 and 1351. It took the most portion of humanity—25 million people—than any other disease outbreak or war during that time. But what really caused this pandemic and how did this affect the society in various aspects?

The Black Death reckoned to be a result of a plague which is a contagious fever caused by the bacterium called Yersinia Pestis. These bacteria are commonly found in rodent rats in particular. It can also be transmitted from different types of rats to fleas. The said bacterium causes three types of plague: bubonic plague which causes fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, body and eye pain, insomnia, and buboes (swelling of lymph nodes); pneumonic plague, which causes affects the respiratory system and causes symptoms similar to a severe pneumonia; and lastly, septicemic plague which is an infection in the blood and causes fatigue, fever, and internal bleeding. The disease was transmitted from rodents to humans through infected fleas due to lack of environmental sanitation or cleanliness. The fact that around this age in Medieval Europe, their beliefs are somewhat skewed and wrong, they are quick to believe in all sorts of superstitions. Do remember that the fleas of rats were the one transferring the diseases to humans and around this time was the time where people are highly in the belief of witches and demons that come in the forms of humans and with cats as their companions. Well, it shows that as the population of cats rose, the plague lowered yet as the population fell, the plague was the one that rose.

People in Medieval Europe are not able to make the connection, their fear of cats grew, thinking of them as consorts to the demon and so they started slaughtering innocent felines in some sort of desperation. They did know that the fleas are the ones who are causing the plague, not only that, they knew that cats (and dogs) have the ability to carry fleas as well and more cats are slaughtered. At that time cats, we’re even outlawed in Europe and huge numbers of cats and dogs were killed, so much so that there was a point where there were barely any cats throughout the nation and there was a time that they banned of having cats. Even though cat ownership was banned, there was of course, some people who still chose to keep their cats and people noticed that cat owners were often immune against the Black Plague, word spread and soon everyone wanted a cat despite their previous beliefs in owning one and soon the laws that outlaw the ownership of cats was removed, saving the extrication of cats in Europe.

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Originally, the plague that caused the Black Death can be traced back in the early to mid-1300s starting from China (It’s still not known if it was from North-West China or South-Western China) which then spread along trade routes westward to the Mediterranean, Middle East and Northern Africa. It extended across Southern England in 1348 and Northern Britain and Scandinavia by 1350. It is due to the trade routes surrounding these countries to keep up the food demands of the world. These trade routes were very helpful for the people until the movement of the germs that caused the plague was facilitated. The plague was said to have arrived on October 1347, when black sea ships docked in a Sicilian port in Messina. Most of the people found dead sailors and those who are still alive were ill and covered in a black boil. The Sicilian Government ordered the fleet from the port, but everything is lost. In the next 5 years more than 20 million people were killed in Europe. It was carried by the fleas that were not affected by the disease and then affected the rats and then infected the people because of the garbage and some sewage that was plastered all over. The disease became transmissible from one person to another because the bacteria can be passed through breathing people are not aware that the bacteria is airborne and has already infected their body. To sum it all up, it is due to the trade routes surrounding these countries to keep up the food demands and the trading economy of their country. These trade routes were very helpful to the people until it facilitated the movement of germs causing the plague.

After the deaths of many people because of the black plague in the mid-fourteenth century, the accident leads to severe economic dislocation, political problems, and social upheaval. It took more than a century to replace the people that died because of the plague. It increases the shortage of the workers that caused the sudden high price of incomes. And decrease the number of demands for basic needs, resulting in falling prices. As the economic consequences had arisen, the landlords and the peasants are facing the same situation. The landlords paying for the labor and their rental revenue was falling and as for the peasants, they complaints about the wage restrictions and the forms of labor services. The complaints of the peasants became a voice that gave rise to rural revolts. The Black Death conceived major unfortunate events, not only affecting the health status of the people but also the economy and the people’s faith with their religions. For instance, many laborers died which lead to the inactiveness of agriculture and the suffering of the trading system.

The Church was the people’s last hope but some priests declined to perform rites, doctors rejected patients, and shopkeepers were forced to close their stores—all done just to prevent the disease. Plus, Anti-Semitism awfully intensified across Europe for Jews were blamed for poisoning the European water for the spread of the plague across the continent. Mobsters even killed and performed holocaust to the said group of people. However, due to the Black Death, wars were postponed and new art and architectural styles were invented. During the Black Death’s rampage, artists dealt with the subject of dying, mortality, and the afterlife with their masterpieces and buildings followed the Romanesque style, making their walls thicker to “prevent the entrance of the plague.” It was also used as a weapon to spread the plague, for example, the Japanese used the plague in the second Sino-Japanese war, and the Mongol on the siege of Caffa under Jani Beg this is the first instance of Biological warfare in history. Because of this, many believe that the Black Death is a reminder and a punishment that God has bestowed upon the people.

It was believed that one of the reasons why the Black Death continuously spreading was the lack of medical knowledge. The people back then had a very small amount of expertise and medical tools to know what was causing the massive loss of population throughout the continent. They had no idea of how the plague spread or how to cure it. The doctors even advised that inhaling bad odors can kill off the plague. Some medieval people took the opportunity and bathed in brine or vinegar and also keeping a dead animal body inside their home. They believed that it was the way to keep away from getting the disease and to survive the deadly season.

According to a source we found through online, Iceland and Finland were the only European country that was able to avoid the expansion of the Black Death. Why? Because the two countries had a small amount of population at that time and they don’t have much communication overseas. But during the 15th century, 2 centuries after the Black Death, they were a strike by a plague twice and killed more than one half of their population.

In conclusion, The Black Death in Europe was the unforgettable happening in the history that led to loads of problems that was so hard to find a solution for at that time. It shows us that we would take any possible risks out there just to survive from a horrible event. The Black Death disappeared after the construction of a proper sewer system, preventing the appearance of infected wild rodents to the upper land where, of course, all population lives. The Black Death is a living reminder to all generations to value not only our health and well-being but also the environment. As for the current generation, it is our task to retain our environment’s cleanliness and purity because if we don’t, it is us who will suffer. We should take good care of our pets because they could help us sometimes when we are in need. Let’s not blame the system when it comes to cleanliness because we, individuals are the one who’s taking the actions in our community. Our society is in the most advanced state possible so let’s not repeat this part of humanity’s history.

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