World Civilizations to 1500
Mr. Valor Pickett
The Bubonic Plague
During the 1300 to 1400’s there was a time progress and rise in the Middle East and Europe. But what people most remember was the chaos and destruction the
Plague caused on society, economy and religious beliefs around the world. The
Bubonic Plague was one of the most devastating and horrible pandemics in human history, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 75 to 200 million people maybe more in
Europe from 1346 to 1353 B.C., according to experts and scientists. This epidemic was called the “Black Death” because of how it left black spots from the bubonic plague that affected the skin that eventually led to death. Although there were several theories, opinions and religion movements as to the origin of the Black Death, after many studies of this disease it concluded that the pathogen responsible was the Yersinia pestis bacterium, probably causing several forms of plague. The Black Death is thought to have originated in the arid plains of central Asia, where it then travelled along the Silk
Road, reaching the Crimea by 1343. Spreading throughout the Mediterranean and
Europe, “the Black Death is estimated to have killed 30 to 60% of Europe's total population. In total, the plague reduced the world population from an estimated 450 million down to 350–375 million in the 14th century (University of Mexico Press)”. This
big problem caused a series of religious, social, and economic upheavals, which had profound effects on the course of European history and the world.
Medieval people called the catastrophe of the 14th century either the "Great
Pestilence"' or the "Great Plague" (Medieval Europe: A Short Story). Writers contemporary to the plague referred to the event as "Great Mortality". Swedish and
Danish chronicles during the 17th century described the events as "black" it’s first time, not to describe the latestage sign of the disease, in which the sufferer's skin would blacken due to subepidermal hemorrhages and the extremities would darken with a form of gangrene, acral necrosis, but more likely to refer to black in the sense of glum or dreadful and to denote the terror and gloom of the events. “Gasquet claimed that the
Latin name " atra mors
" (Black Death) for an epidemic first appeared in modern times in
1631 in a book on Danish history, by Pontanus; where Pontanus wrote about a disease that occurred in 1348: "
Vulgo & ab effectu atram mortem vocatibant. " Commonly and from its effects, they called it the Black Death (The
Black Death of 1348 and 1349). This may have been a mistranslation, as atra can mean black, brooding, or terrible; according to Benedictow. Nevertheless, the name spread through Scandinavia and then
Germany (Benedictow). In England, it was not until the 1900’s that the medieval epidemic was first called the Black Death. According to “History Today”, the Black
Death was an epidemic of bubonic plague, a disease caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis that circulates among wild rodents where they live in great numbers and density.
Plague among humans arises when rodents in human habitation, normally black rats, become infected. The black rat, also called the ‘house rat’ and the ‘ship rat’, likes to live
close to people, the very quality that makes it dangerous. Normally, it takes ten to fourteen days before plague has killed off most of a contaminated rat colony, making it difficult for great numbers of fleas gathered on the remaining, but soon dying, rats find new hosts to land. After three days of fasting, hungry rat fleas turn on humans. Swollen lymph nodes or “buboes” occur in the armpit, neck or groin. Bubonic plague was often used synonymously for plague, but it refers specifically to an infection that enters through the skin and travels through the lymphatics, as is often seen in fleaborne infections. According to The infection takes