Through letters, books, and diaries we can gather insight on peoples’ thoughts, and beliefs during the Bubonic Plague. Desiderius Erasmus, who is also known as The Prince of Humanism, wrote a letter which explained the cause of the Plague in England. He wrote that “The plague and sickness in England is due to the filth in the streets, the sputum, and the dogs’ urine clogging the rushes on the floors of the houses.” The Black Death also created social and economical problems in Europe. In Nicolas Versoris’ Book of Reason, he wrote that the rich fled, which created a smaller workforce in Paris. People in Europe lost their faith, and hope throughout Europe. In her diary, Nehemiah Wallington, an English Puritan, expressed her fear, and her loss of hope and her faith. She thought of what would happen if the plague were to enter her house, which one of her family members would become infected with the plague, and then she thought about when she, herself, would become infected with the plague. Not only were children greedy but so were nurses. Miguel Parets, a Barcelona tanner, wrote in his diary, “Many times all they did was to make the patients die more quickly, because the sooner they died the sooner the nurses collected the fees the fees they had agreed on.” Samuel Pepys, and English naval bureaucrat, wrote in his Diary that people wouldn’t buy wigs anymore because they thought the hair had been cut off the heads of people that had died of the plague. People wore wigs to show off their wealth and power during this era. The Black Death discouraged many people from traveling, but it didn’t discourage everybody. Although the plague was violent in Rome, John Reresby, an English traveler, “resolved to trust to Providence rather than not to see so fine a place.”
In written reports from people of different social classes throughout Europe, people wrote about how the Black Death affected Europe socially. Isolation was a common practice during the spread of the Bubonic Plague. People isolated themselves so that they don’t become infected or so that they won’t infect anybody else. A schoolmaster from the Netherlands wrote in a letter that the plague “killed twenty of the boys, drove many others away and doubtless kept some others from coming to us at all.” Count of the Palatinate and a traveler to Russia, Heinrich von Staden wrote that houses were immediately nailed up if the person from within became infected with the plague. Many died of either hunger, or of the plague within their own houses. Roads and highways became guarded so that a person couldn’t pass from one place to another. Daniel Defoe, an English writer, wrote in his Journal of the Plague Year that foreign exportation stopped and so did the trade in manufactured goods because the trading nations were afraid of getting the Black Death. In a legal deposition, an Italian housewife name Isabetta Centenni stated that when Sister Angelica del Macchia gave her husband Ottavio, who had a malignant fever, a piece of bread, which touched the body of St. Domenica, his fever suddenly broke. In a letter from Father Dragoni to the Health Magistracy of Florence, Father Dragoni, who is a priest, wrote,” I have accompanied severity with compassion and charity. I have managed and fed the convalescents and servants of two pest houses I have paid guards and gravediggers with the alms your lordships have sent me.
The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, which peaked in Europe between 1348 and 1350. Through the eyes of physicians, firsthand accounts, and written reports we got to see what Europeans did, thought, and how the Black Death affected Europe socially. The ending of the Bubonic Plague, one of the biggest epidemics in human history, was also the start of one of the biggest cultural movements in human history, the Renaissance.