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The Killer Comes To Europe Essay

1702 words - 7 pages


During the Middle Ages in Europe there was an ever increasing demand for exotic goods from the East. Traders and merchants would follow the trade routes to and from the far East to bring back perfumes, rice, cotton, wine, salt, fish, lemons, and mirrors (Travel and Trade). Unfortunately along with the goods the traders also carried a deadly affliction that would soon spread all over Europe. Causing one of the greatest pandemics in recorded history was the tiny rat flea (Kugler, 2009). Jumping from host to host and rodent to rodent the disease engulfed Europe in a period of less than fifteen years, and killed an estimated 25 million people within this relatively short period of time (The Black Death, 1348). It moved swiftly carried by rodents and was easily transmitted to humans due to the living conditions of the time. The effects of the bubonic plague pandemic, also called Black Plague or Black Death, that spread across Europe during the mid-14th century was profound. No massive pandemic before or since has caused such great numbers of casualties in such a short period of time. This was due to the living conditions at the time and the virulent nature of the causative organism Yersinia pestis (Kugler, 2009. Whereas up until this time the rich and elite classes of citizenry had been largely able to escape untimely death, disease, and famine that afflicted the poor disproportionately, the plague knew no boundaries and was an indiscriminate killer.
The Killer Comes to Europe

Although this was not the first time that the citizens of Europe had dealt with an outbreak of the plague, this time was inarguably the most devastating. In the years leading up to this pandemic many factors in European countries made its citizens more susceptible to illness (Kagan, Ozment, & Turner, 2007, p.292). Overpopulation, overcrowding, unsanitary living conditions, famine, and economic depression all played a part in the susceptibility of Europe’s population to this bacterial disease (Kagan, Ozment, & Turner, 2007, p.292). Most first accounts of the 1347-1350 plague cite Italy as the country, while the exact city of first appearance varies. According to Snell (2009) trade ships with goods such as porcelain and silk from China were where the vectors of the bacillus were also carried. When citizenry of Italy’s port cities discovered that there was a possible connection between the trade whips and the sickness that had befallen them they expelled trade ships from their ports (Snell, 2009). Unfortunately it was too late. Over the next few years this pestilence would spread from port cities in Europe across the continent by land. In a period of only one year the plague had went from only affecting the citizens of Italy to being reported in most all parts of Europe (Snell, 2009). Port cities such as Tunis, Constantinople, Venice, Valencia, and Genoa were all points of entry and transmission for this petulance (Snell, 2009). Some estimates list the...

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