Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Works Cited

"The Black Death." World History: Ancient and Medieval Eras. ABC-CLIO, 2011. Web. 12 May 2011.

English, Edward D. "Plague During the Middle Ages." Ancient and Medieval History Online. Facts On File, 2011. Web. 12 May 2011.

Giblin, James C. When Plague Strikes. New York: Harper Collins, 1995. Print.

Macdonald, Fiona. The Plague and Medicine in the Middle Ages. Milwaukee, WI: World Almanac Library, 2006. Print.

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How Did the Black Death affect people in the Middle Ages?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Black Death Strikes

             Plague had first started in about 1347. The disease came not by land but by sea. It is thought that rats on cargo ships had infected sailors from Egypt and brought the illness to Greece. Some of the first cases were reported in Piraeus, the port that had served Athens.Within days hundreds of people had fell ill with the mysterious disease. Nobody knew what the disease was or what caused it, but they knew how deadly it was. The first time plague hit was the worst, killing the largest amount of people it had any other time. The first symptoms were severe headache and redness of the eyes. These symptoms were followed by inflammation of the tongue, and a hacking cough. After this the severe symptoms hit. This included severe intestinal upsets, such as, vomiting and acute diarrhea. A high temperature and breaking out with reddish spots was also common with this disease and was seen often. Some of the symptoms compare to today's common flu. Many Europeans living in the medieval ages experienced seeing their loved ones suffer and die from this illness. Imagine what would happen if a disease occurred like this nowadays. What do you think would happen?
 Some of the most common ways the disease spread was through fleas from rats and contact with fluids. Although sometimes the disease spread through people breathing the contaminated air of pneumonic plague. When people went outside the usually held a cloth up by their nose and mouth. People living in cities did almost everything they could that they thought would prevent the disease. Some people completely left moving away in isolation of everyone else.  Others boarded up windows of their house in hope that that would protect them and their family. Infected people usually died around 7-9 days receiving getting the symptoms. Death would've been slow and painful. I'm sure by the time the people fighting the illness would have rather been dead then alive because all the things they had suffered from the disease. Nearly one-third of the population was wiped out by the Black Death. This was just the start of the Black Death. It continued to spread and kill hundreds.

The Black Death Spreads

         The disease was spread by rats that scavenged on cargo ships and in warehouses. The rats had fleas which sucked their blood and humans could get the fleas on them and that’s how the disease could have been spread. Living conditions were not the best and unclean food and contaminated water could easily cause the disease to spread. Many people had left the cities they lived in and went to live somewhere away from all the people with plague. People were told not to bathe so that way their pores would clog and hopefully prevent the disease from getting into their body. Knowing this the smells in the city were not very pleasant. The people who had plague did not smell good at all! Not to mention all of the dead bodies of those who had died from plague. Whenever some people went out on the streets they would carry flowers up to their nose to avoid the terrible smell of the people with plague.
In some places they were very strict about having quarantine for people who had the symptoms of plague for one day to try and help the disease from being be thrown in a hole or placed which many others dead bodies since so many people were dying. spread. This was only enforced in several areas of Europe. Men and women during the time believed the disease was caused by God as a sin. It was clearly not the cause of the illness.  Many ancient people seemed to believe that either Gods, Demons, or Magicians caused diseases. The air was so polluted in the streets and smelt very bad it was called miasma meaning poisonous air. The disease spread so quick that the bodies of those killed by it would just end up on the streets of the city or disposed with all the others killed by the disease since such large numbers of people were dieing. The people suffering from this terrible disease were just waiting for a cure in hopes that the Black Death would not continue to spread.

How does the nursery rhyme "Ring around the Rosie" Relate to the Black Death?

         Ring around the Rosie is a children's song sung with smiling, laughing and hand-holding, but did you know it actually has very morbid roots? It actually relates to the Black Death. Now you wouldn't think that a children's song that everybody knows and loves would have to do with such a harsh topic. I guess that may explain why you always hear the children in scary movies singing this song. Nobody ever would have guessed that this song came from the roots of a disease that killed so many people it was thought to have end the world. So what do the lyrics mean? Well the meaning is almost as simple as the song and makes sense if you think twice about the song.
           The lyrics of the song are based ONLY off of the Black Death. Ring around the rosie is a reference to the black sores that would appear on your body as part of the plague. Your "rosie" is around the center of the back of your hand. A pocket full of posies is a reference to people would carrying posies (flowers) around to not smell the sickening scent of dead bodies everywhere. Ashes Ashes signifies the ashes from all the bodies being burned on pyres. Bodies couldn't be buried or else the infection would spread. We all fall down signifies death. The meaning wasn't later realized until a while after the Black Death had occurred. It still shocks many people to know that such an innocent song we used to sing when we were little has such a horrifying and disturbing meaning. Now when you hear this song will you think of it the same way you did before


The Black Death Effects

          The Black Death majorly effected Europe. Europe's population had been hit hard which had a huge economic impact. The workforce had been destroyed, farms were abandoned, and buildings crumbled. The cost of work and goods also increased. All of these things happened due to the decrease in population from the Black Death. People who survived the Black Death era generally suffered a communal crisis of faith. Rather than becoming more religious in thanksgiving to God for their survival, people harbored doubts. They had turned to the church for an answer to the plague, and the church had been able to offer no help. Additionally, priests, who, along with doctors, had the highest rate of contact with the diseased, also had one of the highest rates of fatalities. Those who still clung to their faith were more likely to do so in a very personal manner. Many began to build private chapels.
           Farming land was given over to pasturing, which was much less labour-intensive. This change in farming led to a boost in the cloth and woollen industry. Peasants moved from the country to the towns. The Black Death was therefore also responsible for the decline of the Feudal system. People became disillusioned with the church and its power and influence went into decline. This resulted in the English reformation. The Black Death had huge effects on Europe, from the people to goods to the economy. Considering nearly over 35 million people died over the major outbreak of the Black Death. The main focuses after the Black Death was religion and goods such as farming. Not to mention all the effects that the Black Death had on all people in the Middle Ages. The Black Death was the murderer of the Middle Ages.

Was there a cure for the Black Death?

          The disease last appeared in 1665 as The Great Plague. Symptoms changed over time as the microbes evolved and resistance in human beings increased. About a third of Europe’s population died (200 million people) when plague first struck in about 1347. Victims had no idea what the disease was or what had caused it. Most doctors in Medieval times did not know hardly anything about plague or how to cure it. The population decreased quickly. The mortality rate was about 30-40%. Who knew that this disease could of caused so much damage to the ancient Medieval society? The spread of the deadly plague in England was swift and the death rate was almost 50% in isolated populations such as monasteries. Some of you may wonder why this disease is called the black death. The reason is that it caused blackening of the skin around swellings. When a victim's blood was let the blood that exuded was black, thick and vile smelling with a greenish scum mixed in it.  Nearly 7500 victims were dying each day from the disease.
            Although there was not necessarily a cure for the disease there was a cure for the symptoms. Headaches were relieved by rose, lavender, sage and bay. Sickness or nausea was treated with wormwood, mint, and balm. Lung problems were treated with liquorice and comfrey. Vinegar was used as a cleansing agent as it was believed that it would kill disease. But bloodletting was commonly thought to be one of the best ways to treat the plague. Black Death was treated by lancing the painful swellings and applying a warm poultice of butter, onion and garlic. Various other remedies were tried including arsenic, lily root and even dried toad. Wouldn't it be strange if the next time you had a headahe you went to the doctors and they gave you lavender to eat?  During later outbreaks of plague people experimented with using tobacco to help cure the disease.