Sample Essay

Discuss and describe the black death and it’s spread through Europe in the 1300’s and up to the year 1666.

The Black Death has been by far one of the most fatal and dangerous epidemics in human history.  The plague was caused by a Bacterium named Yersinia pestis and hit off in Central Asia before making way to Europe in 1340s. The world wide death toll due to this deadly Plague is 75 million while 25-50 million deaths took place in Europe depriving the continent, of 30-60 % of its population.  It is believed that the plague kept recurring every year till the 1700s. Around 100 epidemics swept through Europe in this era and in 1603 victimized thirty eight thousand Londoners.

Various outbreaks occurred in different other parts of Europe, other notable ones in Italy referred to as the Italian Plague which lasted two years (1629-1631), the Great Plague of Seville (1647-652), the Great Plague of London (1665-1666) and the Great Plague of Vienna (1679). (Kelly, 2005)The outbreak of Black Death thus had far reaching repercussions for Europe’s population and was a major blow to the Roman Catholic Church. There were a lot of social implications too and innumerable minorities were persecuted namely the Jews, beggars, foreigners etc. An air of morbidity held sway across Europe and people used to chant to “live for the moment”.

The plague could be detected through various signs and symptoms. There was this septicemia plague which resulted in “blood poisoning”. The alveoli of the lungs were the victims of the pneumonic plague which was caused by airborne factors. The most conspicuous of these was the bubonic plague, which was characterized by blood and pus oozing out of buboes protruding through the neck and the arm pits. The infection would bring death upon the victims within 4 to 7 days. It hit Europe first on its port cities and then later spread through the trade route by sea and land. Of all the plagues bubonic plague was the most common one. Its morality rate was 30 to 75 % and was foreshadowed by fever, vomiting, nausea, headaches etc. Pneumonic plague which had a mortality rate of 90 to 95 % was the second most common and Septicemic plague was the least common of the three. It had a mortality rate of 100 percent.  Trends and statistics is indicative of 45-50 % of European population that succumbed to death in this 4-5 year period. (Kelly, 2005)

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