Ancient Europe: The Cause Of The Black Death

1133 Words5 Pages
Throughout history, many events have had an extensive effect on mankind, but few have changed Europe as considerably as the Black Death. Prior to the pandemic, Europe was overpopulated and experienced a shortage of resources that resulted in malnutrition and extreme poverty for many peasants. Feudalism was the social, political and economic organization that governed the European society. A majority of peasants were serfs, who were forced to live on their lord’s land and provide their labor for a share of produce and military protection. The feudal system kept peasants from rebelling, creating an imbalance between the social classes as the rich continued to be wealthy and the poor wallowed in poverty. Religion, predominantly Catholicism,…show more content…
The outbreak of the plague in Europe is thought to have been caused by an infection of the bacterium, Yersinia pestis, carried by fleas on rats from central Asia and China brought to Europe on twelve Genoese trading ships. The plague is airborne and can also be transmitted by the bite of contaminated fleas or touch by other humans or organisms infected with the disease. It is a contagious and indiscriminate illness that appears in three forms: bubonic, pneumonic, and septicemic; all of which are fatal and leave the infected to die a gruesome death. The Bubonic Plague is most common, showing signs of “painful and enlarged or swollen lymph nodes” also called buboes in the groin, armpit or neck and other symptoms, such as fevers and chills, headaches, fatigue and muscle aches. The Pneumonic Plague is the least common form that affects the lungs and progresses rapidly. Signs of infection may include a bloody cough, difficulty in breathing, nausea, vomiting, high fever, headache, and weakness. The Septicemic Plague has symptoms of fever, weakness, abdominal pain, chills, shock, and tissue death and bleeding which appears black, hence the name Black Death. This plague rapidly spread through Europe during the 14th century, claiming the lives of millions. and drastically changed the social, political, economic and religious structures of…show more content…
Europeans were unable to explain the cause and turned to practical and religious measures, as well as superstition to treat and prevent the plague. In this time period, physicians lacked medical knowledge and relied on traditional methods to treat the unknown illness. In an attempt to cure this contagion, doctors had treatments like bloodletting, removing buboes, and using herbs to purify the “tainted air”. Unfortunately, all was for naught. During the fourteenth century, religion was one of the most important aspects of the daily lives of Europeans. When the Black Death struck, most people blamed the church for the plague because they had thought that everyone who sinned brought God’s wrath on humanity and their sins. Religious believers turned to prayer to be healed, however, when that had no effect, flagellation became common. The Flagellants were the most extreme religious group to emerge during the plague. Medieval people would walk the streets and towns whipping themselves and inflicting self-mutilation as punishment for their sins by imitating Jesus’ pain that he bore in hopes that it would put an end to the plague. The Church did not approve of the behaviors

More about Ancient Europe: The Cause Of The Black Death

Open Document