The aim of this investigation is to answer the question how did the Black Death affect Europe in the Middle Ages. Because the Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, killing up to a third of the population, it is a significant topic to address. Some issues that must be addressed with this topic are how the black plague affected primarily Europe on a social, political, and economic level. The focus will be from 1347 to 1351, when the plague ran its course, but will also look at the aftermath up to modern times. The book The Black Death by Daniel Cohen and Robert S. Giblin’s book The Black Death; Natural and Human Disaster in Medieval Europe both look like promising resources to successfully complete the investigation.
Part B: Summary of Evidence
“The Black Death was a combination of bubonic, pneumonic, and septicaemic plague strains. It devastated the Western world from 1347 to 1351, killing 25%-50% of Europe’s population and causing or accelerating marked political, economic, social, and cultural changes.” Bubonic plague is spread by the bite of a flea that has bitten a rat that carries the bacteria that causes the plague, this form is rarely contagious, and death comes about a week after the initial infection. Pneumonic plague, however, is very easily spread from person to person. It also had a mortality rate of about 50% in its bubonic form and 100% in the pneumonic and septicaemic strains.
Europe was not well equipped to be met with such a pandemic. In fact, their lifestyle was a breeding ground for the vermin spreading it. They had no regular garbage collections, and trash accumulated in the streets. The city had no running water, and the people rarely washed their clothes or bodies. This made both the rich and poor susceptible to the plague.
Giovanni Boccaccio lived in Florence at the time of the plague, and wrote in the preface of his book The Decameron his own account of what he saw. Describing the multitude of the dead he wrote “Hallowed ground could not now suffice, for the great multitude of dead bodies, which were daily brought to every Church in the City, and every houre in the day; neither could the bodies have proper place of burial.” He also described how people would abandon their families to survive. Historians estimate that before the plague, Europe’s population was about 75 million. By the end of 1351, Pope Clemet’s agents calculated the 23,840,000 people had dead of the plague, almost thirty-two percent of the population.
Other communities also suffered great loses. A German extremist faction known as the Flagellants blamed themselves for the plague and sought God’s forgiveness by whipping themselves. When the plague did not end after their sacrifices, they needed a scapegoat, and it was the Jews that paid . Over 200 Jewish communities were massacred after the Flagellants and others spread rumors that they were poisoning the drinking water. Another example of...