The Black Death started during the Middle Ages in the 14th Century and killed about 150 million people in Central Asia. The epidemic originated from fleas and rats. The symptoms started out as egg shaped swellings in groin and armpit and ended up as dark blotches and swellings on the body. The people believed that the plague came from dead bodies and the victim’s clothing. According to the rulers of Pistoia, any old imported cloth was to be burned and corpses were not permitted to enter within the city (Doc 2).
Change in European Understanding of Plague in the 1348 versus 1352 Known as the “Black Death,” one of the most devastating plague pandemic wiped out approximately 30 to 60 percent of the European population, peaking in between 1348 and 1350 . It caused massive religious, social, and economic, upheaval in the European society causing great changes in the European culture and lifestyle1. Finally, when after three and a half years the first wave passed in 1351, it spared few regions causing devastation in towns, rural communities, families, and religious institutions . The plague was reportedly first introduced to Europe via the ports of Caffa and Sicily in 1347, when several Italian merchant ships returned from a trip to the Black Sea, one of the key links in trade with China .
In 1347, rats on ships brought fleas infected with the bacillus that caused the Bubonic Plague, or Black Death. Within four years, between 1347 and 1351, the Death had spread across much of Europe. Between 25 and 50 percent of the population of Europe died of the disease. The Plague led to fanatical religious practices such as flagellation, when people whipped themselves to atone for the sins they believed had caused the disease.
Fleas were on the trade routes to Europe, where they brought and spread the plague. Poor living conditions in Medieval towns; such as Bristol, helped the Black Plague flourish. People would empty chamber pots out of their windows and into the streets. They didn’t realize the consequences of doing that. Bristol was a large city, and was a major trading route.
During the mid-fourteenth century, a plague hit Europe. Initially spreading through rats and subsequently fleas, it killed at least one-third of the population of Europe and continued intermittently until the 18th century. There was no known cure at the time, and the bacteria spread very quickly and would kill an infected person within two days, which led to structural public policies, religious, and medical changes in Europe. The plague had an enormous social effect, killing much of the population and encouraging new health reforms, it also had religious effects by attracting the attention of the Catholic Church, and lastly, it affected the trade around Europe, limiting the transportation of goods. As a response to the plague that took place
The epidemic affected Europe culturally, as the citizens developed an excessive reliance on religion as an answer for their tragedy. Additionally, the Black Death shifted the people’s social perspectives; they lost compassion for the sick and indulged in selfish desires. Finally, the pestilence altered the Europeans’ mental state, as their appreciation of life itself diminished, since the rapid spread of the plague caused torrential death rates across Europe. In response to the Black Death, the people of Europe became passionately pious, for they viewed their misfortune as a punishment from God and, thus, believed the only way to bring about continental happiness was through religion.
The Black Death was three detrimental plagues that began in Mongolia, then swept across the Europe in the 1300’s, being the result of great famines that weakened Europe’s people. The plague was carried by fleas that were carried on rats, making colonists, and the poor more susceptible to the disease. It changed society by not only diminishing the population but also made the people skeptical of the Jews as if it was their doings. What made the plague so significant was how it wasn’t just amongst the poor; royalty, priests, armies, and the poor were all dying. Giovanni Boccaccio witnessed the plague from the city of Florence in Italy, and how it was a “deadly pestilence” (Plague, from the Decameron)
The disease was caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, which is often carried around by fleas that live on rodents. Scientists in 14th century London, England say that the plague was airborne and that rats had little to do with the spread of it. Medieval doctors believed that the plague had several causes.
By this logic, the only way to overcome the plague was to win God’s forgiveness. Some people believed that the way to do this was to purge their communities of heretics and other troublemakers–so, for example, many thousands of Jews were massacred in 1348 and 1349. (Thousands more fled to the sparsely populated regions of Eastern Europe, where they could be relatively safe from the rampaging mobs in the
In the thirteenth century in Europe, the population had a relatively good life. Filled with fair weather and an expanding count of humans, progression seemed to be running smoothly along. However, something terrible was brewing on the horizon: toward the end of the century, a natural disaster hit in a magnitude that had never been seen before by anyone. The Bubonic Plague was a form of sickness that spread through Europe in the Black Death’s reign, riding on infected rats from fleas. This deadly bacterium, Yersinia pestis, killed “50 to 60 percent of its victims” (page 284) and was accompanied by “high fever, swelling joints, swelling of the lymph nodes, and dark blotches caused by bleeding beneath the skin” (page 284).
In some peoples' minds, however, the Jews had poisoned the wells or made a pact with the devil to cause the Black Death. The Black Death also created problems for the nobles and clergy in two main ways. First, the huge population loss in the cities' caused a virtual collapse of the urban grain markets, a major source of income for noble and church landlords with surplus grain to sell. This especially hurt the nobles and clergy, whose incomes were still based on land and who relied on selling surplus grain in the towns for badly needed cash.
People wanted to make sure others knew who they were in the event of death, so they wore tags around their arms and neck (Aberth 26). Returning Crusaders were a contributor to the spread (“Plague” 1). It only took six months for the black death to cross France (Cunningham 49). People of the Middle Ages had no idea that their neighbors sneeze could contaminate them (Cunningham 53). Black flags were flown over churches to warn that the plague was in the city (Cunningham 52).
The Christians thought the Lord was punishing them with the disease, and that when the Lord was enraged to embrace in acts of penance, so that you do not stray from the right path and parish. The Christians pray to their Lord and ask what they should do? A great number of saintly sisters of the Hotel Dieu, who did not fear to die, nursed the sick in all sweetness and humility, with no thought of honor, a number too often renewed by death, rest in peace with Christ, as we may piously believe. People began to think the Jews were guilty for the disease. The Muslims looked at praying for the disease to go away in disgust, because they believe the plague is a blessing from God.
It was the Spring of 1348, and the citizens of Europe were malnourished due to limited food supplies for such a large population. This made them more susceptible to the outbreak of the Black Death. The Black Death originated in Asia, then moved westward into Sicily. From Sicily, the plague crept its way up through Europe infecting millions of people, in total killing more than one third of Europe’s population. In fact, over fifty percent of the population of Siena died, along with fifty percent of Paris, eighty percent of Florence, and over two thirds of Venice.
The Black Death was a disease that had a catastrophic impact on Europe. Reaching Europe in 1347, the plague killed an estimation of one-third of the population in the first wave. Each document varies with its reasons for the cause of the plague and how to deal with it. The first document Ordinances against the Spread of Plague seemed to blame Pisa and Lucca for the plague and thus, began to forbid contact with those places. It was forbidden for citizens of Pistoia to go to, or have contact with anyone or anything from Pisa or Lucca.