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Bubonic Plague Essay

1383 words - 6 pages

The Social Effects of the Bubonic Plague The Bubonic Plague was a disease where the victim has swollen lymph nodes, called buboes. These swollen lymph nodes are often first found in the groin area, which is "boubon" in Latin. This disease became associated with the term "plague" because of its widespread fatality throughout history. Bubonic plague was also known as the "Black Death" in medieval times. This is because the dried blood under the skin turns black. Although it had very severe physical side effects, it also had a very critical impact on society in Middle Age Europe. It changed the way of life for many people and constituted how we live today. It created a shortage of food, had a negative effect on art, sharpened the social classes and gave the poor a little more freedom, and induced a general pessimistic view of life, but the two biggest effects it had were on the Catholic Church and on education.The plague caused a severe food shortage for many reasons. Farmers left their farms to avoid the plague causing not enough food production, which, in turn, caused a rise in the price of food. Ironically, some people in urban areas died of starvation, not the plague. Because of the lack of workers and the lowered population, many lands went from wheat growing to pasture land.The Black Death had an amazing effect on the art of the period. It created a certain tone of despair that emerged distinctly in the late 1300's. One example of this is the tomb sculptures. The sarcophagus usually depicted religious scenes but the lid of the tomb more often than not was the likeness of the one entombed. Previously these likenesses would be the deceased in full health and dressed in their finest but in the late 14th century some sculptures showed the decomposed body with bones showing and rags adorning the body. Similarly, a style called "danse macabre" emerged in paintings.The "danse macabre", or the Dance of Death, showed skeletons and common folk mingling together in daily scenes. Even more shocking is the fact that these paintings were requests of the church, monarchs, and city councils and displayed in public places. Pre-plague art was warm and sympathetic, stressing personal feelings and religious themes. After the plague though, art seemed obsessed with pain, death, and despair. (Gottfried 91). Art no longer showed the harmony between man, reason, and nature.Also because of the Black Death, workers became scarce and because of this the peasants experienced a rise in wages. In fact, the demand for workers was so high that it threatened manorial holdings and many serfs were no longer tied to their lords. Soon, the wages were more than enough to support the peasants and most had extra money left over. This created a higher standard of living for the poor, giving them more power than ever before.When aristocracy tried to resist the changes, peasants revolted. Two of these revolts were England's peasant revolt of 1381 and Jacquerie Wars in northern...

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