25 million Europeans died in just under five years between 1347 and 1352 due to the epic plague known as the Black Death. The great plague swept over Europe, ravaging cities causing widespread hysteria and death. One thirdthe population of Europe died. Simply mentioning the bubonic plague sends shivers down ones spine as it was one of the deadliest epidemics in history. It was originally transmitted by the fleas fom infected Old English black rats. The death rate was 90% for those exposed to the bacterium and the time from infection to death was no longer than one week. The infected would be locked in their homes and not allowed to ever come out.
People's attitudes towards music and art changed as they began to see the depression surrounding them. The government and their medical workers tried to prevent the plague. Most medical workers packed up and left because they had all feared they would soon become infected by the Black Death. The horrific nature of the Black Death was reflected in the realistic depictions of human suffering and carnage as well as the symbolic use of the skeleton.There are a number of paintings containing people socializing with skeletons, also known as "danse macabre". Artists abandoned old ways of painting things idolized by the Christian religion. They were so depressed by the death that surrounded them that they began to paint pictures of sad and dead people.