The Tragedy Of The Black Death

Imagine
yourself alone on a street corner, coughing up bloody mucous each time you
exhale. You are gasping for a full breath of air, but realizing that is not
possible, you give up your fight to stay alive. You\'re thinking, why is this
happening to me? That is how the victims of the Black Death felt. The Black
Death had many different effects on the people of the Middle Ages. To understand
the severity of this tragic epidemic you must realize a few things about the
plague. You should know what the Black Death is, the cause of the plague,
the symptoms, the different effects it had on the people, and the preventions
and cures for the plague.
The Black Death, also known as the Black Plague
or the Bubonic Plague, which struck in 1349, and again in 1361-62, ravaged
all of Europe to the extent of bringing gruesome death to many people of the
Middle Ages. The Black Death struck in 1349, and again in 1361-62, but was
restricted just to Europe (Rowse 29). It was a combination of bubonic, septicaemic,
and pneumonic plague strains (Gottfried xiii) that started in the east and
worked its way west, but never left its native home. One of the things that
made the plague one of the worst was that there were outbreaks almost every
ten years (Rowse 29), but still restricted to Europe. It is thought that one
third to one half could have possibly died by the plague (Strayer and Munro
462), with some towns of a death rate of up to 30 or 40 percent (Strayer and
Munro 462). Very few who were infected with the plague actually survived more
than one month after receiving the disease (Strayer and Munro 462). The Black
Death was an incredible event that effecte
d everyone on either a physical
or emotional level, or both. The Black Death was more terrible, and killed
more people than any war in history (Strayer and Munro 462). The plague was
so horrible and terrifying that people said it made all other disasters in
the Middle Ages seems mild when comparing it to the Black Death (Gies 191).
There
have been many disputes over what caused the Black Death, but only one is supported
with the most evidence. It is thought that on October of 1347, a Genoese fleet
made its way into a harbor in northeast Sicily with a crew that had "sickness
clinging to their very bones" (Gottfried xiii). The sickness this crew had
was not brought by men, but the rats and fleas aboard the ship. The harbor
tried to control the sickness by attempting to quarantine the fleet, but it
was too late (Gottfried xiii). Within six months of the docking of that very
fleet, half of the region had either fled the country, or died. That fleet,
along with many other fleets along the Mediterranean Sea brought the greatest
natural disaster to the world (Gottfried xiii).
The infested rat, called
the black ship rat, was carried in the baggage of merchants on board the ships
traveling all over the Mediterranean (Norwich 30). They didn\'t know it, but
it was the people that actually spread the disease across the land. The plague
spread in a great arc across Europe, starting in the east in the Mediterranean
Sea, and ending up in northwest Germany (Strayer and Munro 462). It is incredible
that the plague hit Europe several times, but still no one understood neither
the causes nor the treatments of the epidemic (Strayer and Munro 462).
There
was another cause that some people strongly believed brought the disease into
their world. Doctors at the University of Paris claimed that on March 20,
1345, at one o\'clock in the afternoon, a conjunction of three higher planets
Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars caused a corruption of the surrounding air, which
made the air become poisonous or toxic (Gottfried 110). This is a highly unlikely
theory unless you are coming from a basis of Astrology. Another explanation
of the plague that scientists gave was environmental factors. These scientists
thought that there were many earthquakes that caused toxic fumes to come from
the center of the earth (Gottfried 110), which, again, brought contaminated
air for the people. Certain historians have wondered if the plague could
have been caused by overpopulation of the continent, but they are not completely
convinced (Hoyt and Chodorow 632). Some people, possibly out of desperation,
turned their violence on the Jews and blamed them for the cause of the plague
(St
rayer and Munro 463). Whatever the cause