In the 14th century, a horrible disease known as the Black Death or Plague spread through the world, starting with Asia, Africa and Europe. The towns which were once populated, rapidly emptied as the Black Death grew stronger, leaving awful remains and only a handful of survivors. Historians have estimated that between 25% and 50% of Europe’s population were victims of the plague.
The Beginning of the End
Europe was rich in signs that danger was coming. In 1347, the island of Cyprus suffered an earthquake and tidal wave. In France, the musician Louis Heyligen stated ‘showers of frogs and snakes, hailstones big enough to kill a man, and then fire falling from the sky’. People in Austria, started to worry when rainstorms ruined vineyard and cornfield, swarms of grasshoppers invaded the crops and the sun and moon were both colourless. The Black Death arrived in Italy in 1347 and spread all over the rest of Western Europe in two years. The deaths were caused by bacterial disease from Yersinia pestis, by rats and mainly the fleas they carried. All medieval towns were crowded and contaminated with rats, increasing the risk of infection. There were plenty of droughts which destroyed crops, sunk ships and encouraged grasshoppers. People and animals moved around more, trying to survive in a confusing world. The Black Death has mostly been described as the Bubonic plague because of the lumps or buboes that were caused, however there was possibly two other forms of the Black Death – pneumonic (disease in the lungs) and septicaemic (Bacteria poisoning the bloodstream).
The death rate for those who were infected was very high and uneven. The Black Death returned in 1360 and again in 1371 with lower death rates, until the last return of the plague for Europe in 1664. Symptoms
The symptoms of the Black Death were terrible and included; painful swellings which appeared in the armpits, legs, neck or private parts, very high fevers, vomiting, muscular pains, internal...
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