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The Historical Impact Of The Black Plague. Extensive Research. Unfortunately, I Wrote This Ages Ago And The Bibliography Has Been Lost To The Sands Of Time.

1687 words - 7 pages

The Historical Impact of the Black PlagueIn the fourteenth century, plagues swept through Europe, killing a quarter of a million people and recurring approximately five times for nearly a century. It made humankind fully aware of life's brevity and of death's pitilessness. This "Black Death" changed history, placed a twelve-year-old-king on the throne and weakened the Church's grip on the people such that it never regained its full power.Events that would shock future generations occurred daily in this era, when people were so confused, ashamed and helpless that they ignored old customs and religious practices. Pope Clement VI had to consecrate the Rhone River so corpses could be sunk in it, families buried their dead only to have the bodies exhumed a week or two later to make room for more, mass graves were dug outside towns for cadavers to be discarded in. People were blind to the atrocities committed everywhere and accepted them as a typical way of life. (Knox 1)The Black Death is thought to have originated in Asia's Gobi Desert and was brought to Europe by traveling armies in the 1340's. Plague was perhaps the world's first biological weapon: diseased carcasses were catapulted into besieged cities to kill defending troops. Obviously, the plague was indiscriminate, and townspeople, invading soldiers and local militia were all stricken. So this tactic had the desired effect, but it often came at a steep price. (Rice 1)The Black Death was spread by these armies, travelers and especially vermin, specifically fleas. These tiny, ostensibly innocent pests brought about this dark period in history merely doing what they do best. The flea feeds on an infected rat and moves on to a human. Then the flea regurgitates the blood from the rat into the human, infecting the human. The rat dies. The human dies. Anyone in the vicinity was likely to be infected as well, by the afflicted person's fleas.However, no distinction was made between the bubonic plague and the pneumonic plague. The pneumonic plague was a disease of the lungs and was transmitted by bacteria made airborne by coughing or sneezing. The symptoms of the two plagues were very similar, which was probably why they both were referred to as the Black Death. These symptoms included vomiting and spitting of blood, violent pains in the chest, gangrenous inflammation of the throat and lungs, tumors in the groin, armpits and neck, and purple spots (caused by subcutaneous hemorrhages). The tumors eventually burst, and the victim died soon after. The process of contraction, degeneration and death took only three or four days. (The Black Death 1)Astronomers attributed this pandemic to a conjunction of Saturn, Mars and Jupiter in the sign of Aquarius that had occurred in 1345. This conjunction was said to have caused the earth to exhale poisonous vapors. The popular opinion was that God was punishing sinners, or that Satan was laying waste to humanity. Many officials and priests suspected the truth, though,...

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