Dr. Lynn Raley
The Black Death
Considered one of the worst natural disasters in world history, the Black Death came through Europe in 1347 A.D. It ravaged cities and town, causing a death to the masses, and no one was considered safe. The Plague is any epidemic scourge or calamity for which remedies are difficult to find, and according to the encyclopedia, plague is a common term for a disease of rodents that occasionally cause severe human infection. Named for the black spots that appeared on the victims' skin, the original disease originated from Oriental Rat Fleas and black rats. It first infected Mongol armies and traders in Asia, and then began moving west with them as they traveled. There was no natural immunity to the disease, and standards of public health and personal hygiene were nearly nonexistent. It is believed that if people had not fled to nearby cities in hopes of escaping the plague, it might not have ever spread like it did. In the end, it passed through Italy, France, England, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Poland, Finland, and even up to the island of Greenland. City dwellers were hit the hardest due to the fact of crowded streets and the lack of sanitation. Up until the mid-15th century, recurrent epidemics prevented the recovery of Europe's population to pre-plague levels. The Black Death was an important turning point for the history of Europe. This time was "the beginning of the end of the medieval period and the start of a social transformation of the continent." The social and economic impacts of the plague were so huge, economics, politics and the European society would never be the same again.
The plague took on three different forms, each with its own unique way of killing. The most common, bubonic, was considered the mildest form, with a mortality rate of thirty to seventy-five percent. A person with this would be seen with enlarged lymph nodes in the neck, arm and groin regions, with headaches, nausea, body aches, and a high fever. The pneumonic plague was the second most commonly seen form of the Black Death. Only five percent of its victim's survived, infecting the lungs, causing a person to cough and vomit blood. The least common form, but most deadly, with a one hundred percent death rate was the septicemic plague. Even today, if a person were to come up with this form of the plague, there is no cure, treatment, or way to stop it. The symptoms are a high fever and skin discoloration of a dark purple. This dark purple, almost black looking color is where the Black Death got its name. The victims of any of these three forms of the plague were usually dead within twenty-four hours of their first symptom. Once the symptoms occurred, there was not way of stopping the disease, death was inevitable. The plague greatly effected the social and economic aspects of Europe, while some effects are still being seen today.
The population loss was astronomical if you consider the actual amount of people living in Europe at the time. Although an exact number can and will never be calculated, the closest estimate is about one-third of the overall population from 1347 1352 A.D. Some areas across Europe suffered very little, while others were completely obliterated. Long term population loss was also hard to recover from. Urban populations recovered quickly because of the immigration out of the country and into the cities. People came to the cities because of the great increase in opportunities. Jobs and other things were now open, and store owners were desperate for any help they could get. On the other side, rural life was not the same for a great number of years. City businesses suffered greatly from the plague. Financially, people who had lent out loans were left with no way of getting their money back, for the debtor had died, along with his entire family, leaving the creditor with no one to collect his money from....