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THE BLACK DEATH

Kaitlin McGoldrick
Western Civilization I
October 7th, 2012

During the 1300s, a plague epidemic swept through Europe ruining everything in its path. Not a soul knew this horrible disease was about to turn their world upside down, but when it did there was no turning back. There was no getting back to their normal lives when this disaster hit. To me this is one, if not the most, terrible plague epidemics to hit the European countries. This horrible epidemic was called the Black Death. Researchers have spent decades studying and searching for answers. One answer they came to find was that this exact plague alone was responsible for killing over a third of the population. Europeans all over reacted and responded in so many different ways. Most did not know how to take the fact that their lives will never be the same after this pandemic swept through, and then some considered this a new beginning, a way to start over fresh and change their lives around.

To understand the Black Death a little more, one might need background information. The name “Black Death” is a recent name that was recently given to this horrible epidemic. The original names for the Black Death were “The Great Mortality” or “The Pestilence.” The name “The Black Death” came from a mistranslation of the Latin word ‘atra’ meaning both ‘terrible’ and ‘black’[1]. Around October 1347 the Black Death reached Europe in Caffa and Constantinople parts of the Black Sea. Citizens that were waiting on 12 Genoese trading ships, which were to be docked at the port, first discovered the disease. To the citizens surprise most of the men on the ships were dead, and those that were still alive were deathly ill. The men were told to be suffering with a high fever, unable to eat and what they could keep down they threw it back up. They were delirious from all the pain and suffering, and scariest of all they were all covered in mysterious black boils that had blood and pus oozing out of them on their necks, in their armpits, and in their groin area. They soon worsened and began coughing up blood, and the ones that were alive died within the next few days.[2] Thinking that if they sent the ships back out to harbor the rest of the citizens would be safe from this horrific plague, but little did they know it was too late.[3] Over the next two to three years the plague spread rapidly all over Europe. Before the Black Death hit the population during the early 1300s was approximately 70-100 million, but the after affect is extremely shocking. We are led to think that the plague caused around 25-60 million European deaths alone. This is not including all that was killed in the east where the disease first started. In my own personal opinion if I was a historian I would have to research why the sick people were sent back to sea after having citizens in contact with them. You would think that they would at least try to help, and maybe try to find cures. But I could also see it from the people’s perspectives, I would not want to be getting in contact with these sick men if I knew there was a possible chance I could lose my life. I do not think that people during this time period had the capability to think about the outcome. The outcome being you have already been in contact with these ill men, and not only are you at risk of getting deathly sick, but you’re at risk of putting tons of other people in the same position.

Before they knew it the disease was spreading like wildfire, and the people had no idea what to think. The healthiest people could go to bed at night thinking that they were going to wake up and be just fine, but most of them never even had the chance to wake up. They soon realized that sending those ships back out to sea did not help them at all. People were dying off left and right and no one seemed to know why. No one, not even the doctors during this time could figure out why this was happening....
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