The Black Death


Black Death symptoms/Types

In the year 1347, individuals from all classes were experiencing high body temperatures, vomiting, the sensation of freezing, and worst of all physical suffering. People would pass away within three days of getting this infection. The infection was known as the Black Death.

Before passing the innocent would start receiving red/black marks, and swellings all over their bodies. The swellings would reach to about the size of an orange, if a person had the Bubonic form of the plague. In addition, this was the most common form at the time. The inflammation’s would turn red and then black toward the end of the infection. After this, the diseased swellings would get to the point of bursting with blood.  With the Septicemic plague, the blood stream would be taken over by the poison, causing direct infection and immediate death. When the infection entered the lungs, which caused vomiting of blood this was usually the Pneumonic plague.

Overall, it did not matter if a person was rich, poor, smart, or less sophisticated; this infection hit one in three people. It was first thought that only the old, sick, or physically unhealthy people would get this infection, but it affected all. Fifteen to twenty-five million people lost their lives not knowing the reason to their illness.

Suzanne McCabe.  “Death comes to Europe. ” Scholastic Action 24 Jan. 2003: Children’s Module, ProQuest. Web.  3 Sep. 2010.   
Taylor, G.. ”The Black Death: A Personal History. The Booklist 1 Jun 2008: General Interest Module, ProQuest. Web.  3 Sep. 2010.


Black Death/Causes/Treatments

The cause of the Black Death was unknown during the 1348 outbreak in Europe. People thought that all of the deaths were occurring due to the world ending. While others thought it was due to a specific religion trying to bring down the Christian faith.  In any case, individuals were clueless to the real cause of the mass numbers of deaths/struggles of the innocent.

In the year 1348, a bacteria called Yersinia Pestis was intact in rats from Asia. Merchants were in Asia buying silk, and spices that would later be sold in Europe. These infected rats boarded trading ships that would enter England through popular Southern ports. The rats shared Yersinia Pestis with its host the flea. Later, the infected rats would die, and the flea would head to its next victim being the humans.

Nobody knew how to treat this infection, causing majority to pass away. The most that was done to “cure” this deadly infection had to do with using herbs and spices. For example, to relieve headaches a mixture of lavender and sage was administered to the patients. To reduce the swellings a combination of spices and butter was applied to the wounds. All of these techniques were useless in saving lives, and only proved that their current day doctors were of no help.

John Theilmann, and Frances Cate. “A Plague of Plagues: The Problem of Plague Diagnosis in Medieval England. ” The Journal of Interdisciplinary History  37.3 (2007): 371.  Research Library Core, ProQuest. Web.  5 Sep. 2010.


Black Death And The Reaction Of People

Families consisting of Children, Mothers, and Fathers were all killed by this plague. Some families even went to the extent of abandoning their children to reduce the chance of getting the horrible infection. People were so paranoid regarding the infection, leading them to place their loved ones in separate areas. The sick were placed in closed off huts where they eventually suffocated from lack of air.

The smell of death was all around Europe. Dead bodies were commonly stored in houses or streets until they were transferred to their final resting place. So many people were affected by the Black Death, that there was practically no room to bury the dead in graveyards. In Florence, Italy  large pits were dug, and hundreds of bodies were dropped at a time.

When walking in the streets, women would hold flowers under their noses to somewhat reduce/eliminate the smell of rotting bodies. Thinking that the world was coming to an end, some men started to heavily drink; moreover, ignoring their day-to-day responsibilities. This caused chaos, and disorder in cities. Only the wealthy could escape to their summer homes or other villages to avoid the risk of infection. While leaving their houses behind, others would find these properties abandoned, and would steal what they could find.

Currently, we have a vaccine ready if the Black Death ever comes back to the present. Our scientists discovered the answer in the 1900’s. If it were not for the struggles of the past, we would not have learned about prevention and the importance of self-hygiene. Individuals from that time lacked medical knowledge. Learning from their un-awareness allows us to be healthier, create vaccines, and hopefully not repeat the past horrors/mistakes.

Frank Furedi.  “Plague studies. ” New Statesman  21 May 2001: ABI/INFORM Global, ProQuest. Web.  6 Sep. 2010.
“Europe: 1348: Plague and economics. ” The Economist  31 Dec. 1999: ABI/INFORM Global, ProQuest. Web.  6 Sep. 2010.