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Jeff Lunsford

Dr. Herman
February 15, 2007

The Black Death

The black death was a plague that swept the european population with
devastating consequences in the late 13th and 14th century. while most of the
historical focus is on the european side of the map, Asia was affected just as
hard as many of the european states. (boisestate.edu) The plague had a
devastating effect on the european continent though in particular as it was
orginially brought to europe on a ship that arrived in Cyprus in the summer of
1347 and by september of 1348, it had reached England.(boisestate.edu) This
plague had three very disticnt forms of killing or severely crippling the individual.
One of the forms was the Bubonic plague, which had large "bubo's", large sacks
that could grow to the size of an gold ball or as large as an apple, filled with puss
and blood, would form around the groin and armpit region of the body. This form
of the disease was about 60 percent fatal and was the least fatal of the three
types of the disease. Another form was the Pneumonic Plague which attacked
the lungs and was extremely dangerous because it was an airborn virus and
could therefore be aquired by simply breathing the virus. This form of the disease
was extremely deadly as it killed 95 percent of its victims and killed its victims in
three to seven days. The last and most deadly form. Its name is the Septicemic
Plague and it attacks the bloodstream and kills its victims overnight by
overloading the immune system, causing it to crash.This form also killed at least
95 to 100 percent of its victims, and since this was a highly contagious form of
the disease and killed overnight, this was by far the deadliest form of the plague.
(Civilization:past and present. 398)

The Black Plague also had a devastating effect on the Catholic church during its
course in europe. The reason being is that up untill the time if the Black Plague
the church supposedly had all the answers to the peoples problems and when no
explanation or cure was put forth by the church, many people abandoned the
church and also, may priests abandoned there flocks. The plague brought on
many differant kinds of reactions from the people of europe, from the "Eat, Drink
and Be Merry" mindset, to the extremeist views of the Flagellants.

The Flagellants were an extreme group of individuals who would everyday gather
in a group and walk around whipping themelves with a three -pronged whip that
each of them carried on there person. These whips had, in the end of each one,
a sharp object like a piece of glass, or needles in order to cause intense pain,
possibly signifying what Jesus wen through when we was to be crucified. These
Flagellants would do this in order to show god that they were "sorry" for whatever
they had done in order to cause such a terrible plague to sweep there country.
Many differant "cures" and measures to prevent and treat the disease in europe.
Some doctors wold wear bizzare outfits almost resembeling a bird as they were
clothed from head to toe in a long robes and would also wear masks that had a
long nose, very closely resembling a birds beak. This "beak" would be filled with
flowers and sweet smelling objects as at that time they believed that the plague
was caused by an airborn agent and not fleas. I suppose it was a logical
conclusion as the rats that were carrying the disease would most likely emerge
from the sewers and would therefore carry the stench that the sewers so often
have with them to where ever they would go. However, this is just one of many
examples of the bizzare actions of the doctors in there attempt to cure the
disease, from putting hot onions on the bubos to having pigeons suck the blood
from the bubos, all of these were frankly, worthless in treating the disease. These
attempts however, were not all in vain as some of them were sucessful in slowing
down the disease.

"Yersinia Pestis", is the official name of the virus that casued the bubonic plague
and it was mainly carriewd by black rats emerging from trade ships and infecting
other rats in the sewers. (www.wikipedia.org) This caused was devastating to
many of the lower class individuals because often times they would have sweage
in the streets and it would, most of the time, just sit and rot in the streets because
of poor irrigation in most citys. This allowed for the breeding of rats and provided
an ideal enviroment for the rampant spread of the disease to any and all
individuals who encountern it.

However, there was a group of individuals who seemed to be resiliant and had
very few deaths, this was the Jewish population. It was more than likely because
the Jewish population was very fond of cats and since the cats often times killed
the rats or simply kept them away from humans, many jewish people were
spared from a terrible death. This was actually a very large source of anti-semtic
attitudes towards Jewish people as people did not understand why the disease
was not effecting them. Also the Jewish diet that most orthodox jews keep to is a
very diverse diet and most individuals that keep to it remain healthy and strong.

As a whole the black death was the most devastating plague that europe has
ever seen and probibly will ever see as we now have vaccinations and antibiotics
that can prevent outbreaks. We can learn a valuble lesson from the past
mistakes though as we can be preparing for the future by providing funding and
support for research and development of vaccinations for new disease's. We as
the world can work together in unison in order to ensure that our lives and the
lives of our children is a safe and healthy one.

Works Cited
Cox Skip. "The Black Death". Boise State University. 15 February, 2007.
Cox Skip. "The Black Death". Boise State University. 15 February, 2007.

Palmira Brummett, Robert R Edgar, Neil J Hackett, George F Jewsbury, Barbra

Molony. Civilization Past and Present. Eleventh Edition. Volume 2. Pearson
Longman: New York.

"The Black Death". Wikipedia.org. 15 February, 2007.