EN 11 Texts and Contexts
December 2, 2011
The Bubonic Plague in England
The Bubonic plague, also known as the Black Plague or the Black Death, originated in China and eventually spread to Europe, killing an estimated one third of Europe’s population. The plague spread to England and killed 100,000 people in London in the first outbreak alone. The plague affected English society, leaving people going “mad with fear and desperation.” (Hatcher) The plague drastically altered England’s economy because of the decline of workers. While the English government dealt with the plague extremely well, resentment of the government remained among the population.
The Black Death originated in China and was spread to Crimea by way of the Silk Road. It was then carried to the Mediterranean through merchant ships. It spread to Italy and “it radiated from there by many routes over the whole of Europe.” (The Black Death) The disease travelled across all trade routes and merchants neglected to recognize the spread of disease. The plague was caused by an infection with the bacteria pasteurella pestis, which is carried by rat fleas. The disease was eventually spread to humans because rats “live in walls and roofs, always in close contact with man.” (Mullet) Rat fleas would spread the disease by biting different rats. However, the rat population started to decrease when all of the rats died from the disease. The fleas were forced to resort to biting humans. Rats flocked merchant ships and that was how the disease was spread across trade routes. All means of transportation were infested with rats and people all around the world were surrounded by disease. The plague received its name because of the black spots on its victim’s skin. Sufferers of the plague would suffer from swollen lymphatic glands, fatigue, confusion, nausea, and fever. Later the symptoms would increase to severe chest pains, spitting blood and the draining of the... [continues]
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