The Black Death in Medieval Period

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Different topics we available for choice in the assignment. The main focus was to identify critical occurrences during the Medieval Period. I came across different topics including innovation during the Medieval Period, the rise of Islam and Christianity, and the Black Plague. I settled for the Black Plague because it was a catastrophic incident that sometime confounds modern science yet it remains under explored. Therefore, it was important to use credible sources on the Black Plaque and its impacts during the Medieval years. Of key concern was to establish its background, consequences, and the aftermath.

The Middle Ages played an integral role in the history of the world. Much happened in Europe, including the Renaissance, major technological advancements, art and architecture, and innovations, the rise of religion, and growth into modernity. The person describes the catastrophe as a “bubonic plaque” that saw doctors and religious leaders dying while they conducted prayer services for the dead of treating the sick (6-7). Despite quarantine, several people lost their lives and cross-infected others. Caused by the bacterium “Yersinia Pestis,” the disease spread easily from rodents to human beings, not only in Los Angeles but Europe (Cantor 18). The disease outbreak occurred between 1346 and 1353 killing between 75 and 200 million people. Unfortunately, anybody who came into contact with a sick person died. While others were buried decently, the poor had to be put to rest during the night when nobody else noticed (Person 18). Every morning, several bodies were found in the pit, but dogs still managed to drag them to the lands. Bodies were scattered on the streets, leaving both physical and emotional distress.

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The disease started in rat colonies and spread when people moved from the cities to the rural areas and later the townships. Between six and seven weeks, at least 10,000 people lost their lives. Movements within the cities were restricted to control the disease spread, but it was almost impossible to contain the situation. While rodents were marked as the causes of the disease, the findings proved that fleas and lies were exempted as carriers of the bacterium. Lung infections caused uncontrollable coughs. Byrne explains that suspected culprits were the wild fleas and rodents and most of the studies were conducted in the American Southwest and Russia to establish the cause of the disease (6). Asia was an area of interest following the previous outbreak of a bubonic plague between 760 and 1300 AD. The link between Russia and China played an integral role in trying to establish the role of immigration on the spread of disease. No link existed between the spread of another plague in Asia and the Black Death. Byrne records that historians wanted to establish the return of a plague that had never caused death in Europe of the East in the past. Thus, it was impossible to conclude that the bubonic plague of the 760s-1347 had resurfaced as the Black Plague (7). Hence, it was important to establish why the Black Death was spreading very fast, causing deaths, and it had not explanations. Evidence shows that it acquired the name from a voyage across the Black Sea, which ended up with corpses of the Djanibeg people. Plague ships travelled across Africa and the East but the most affected region was America, Spain and Germany, two years after the popular cross-sea voyage. The ships had rats and some of them were headed to Venice, which means that Italy also faced the adverse effects of the plague. The Plague spread to France and England fast. Muslims suffered the worst bout in Spain, France and the Balearic Islands (Byrne 9). Other worst hit areas were Norway, Prussia, Sweden, and Denmark

According to Byrne, at least 2/3 of the European population was affected by 1348 and almost all of them were dead (35). About a year before, only 1/10 of the entire population was sick. Given the circumstances, the sporadic spread of the disease literally swept Europe. The most affected country was Spain in which most of the people were victims of depression. Also, most of them succumbed to the re-occurrence of the disease. While several people died in the 14th Century, researchers only discovered the type of bacterium that was associated with the condition in the 1800s (Person 8). The study talks about Jesus Lajun the first person who was infected after innocently carrying a dead rat. In the 1900s, people who set traps for rats and killed them were rewarded financially because they assisted in reducing the spread of the plague (Person 8). Different speculations surrounded the cause of the plague, but religion and science were the most controversial of the two.

People feared the Black Death so they turned to religion to look for answer and a cure. Cantor explains how several people believed that the disease was a punishment from God, especially after the death of Henry of Grosmont, Duke of Lancaster in 1361 (174). Most studies focused on findings along-term solution and on Henry, physicians used snake poison to destroy the virus but it failed. Among the Muslims, the idea was that people had sinned against Allah and it was critical to ask for forgiveness. The most logical response to the Muslim case is the most of them have close knit families. They mostly shared water for hygiene and played a critical role in the spread of the disease. Byrne explains that God’s anger attributed to the “evil plague” as the Nikonian Chronicles affirms (29). Even though Christians and Muslims believed that God was punishing the sinners, it was evident that the worst hit areas bordered the Baltic regions. In essence, proximity to water bodies meant that they would interact with the people who left the water vessels or they used the water that was already infected. The most astonishing fact about the Black Plague was that everybody succumbed to it including Christians, Muslims, Saints, Jews, Sinners, religious leaders, the poor, and the rich. Hence, the conclusion was that the plague was a mankind problem and the only way to resolve the problem was top seek intervention from the creator. When people couldn’t seek sanctuary and safety from the plague from religion people turned to science for answers. The Black Death allowed science to advance because since there was no one left to question their logic. Since the church was deserted and the priest either fleeing the region or dying from the plague. This brought a drastic change in the 14th century causing a plummet in the world population. Which affects the world economy and the idea of questioning the human body.

During the long stretch of the disease period Russia suffered one of the worst crises because it would hit every five years (Spyrou et al. 6). Because of Europe’s geographic area, it was possible for the disease to spread extremely fast. Major epidemics had a similar impact on the region, which was recorded to have the highest rate of crime. Movements from one part of Europe to the other further worsened the situation (Cantor 193-199). Also, the re-occurrence of the plague made it almost impossible for anybody to survive. For this reason, scientific explanations had to be found around the 14th century to curb the disease. Byrne explains that nobody knew how to prevent the disease, even though recommendations included a change of diet and quarantine (33). Other researchers recommended concoctions while others believed that the poison would only be used to destroy the disease. Thus, some of them believed in the power of the snake bite but it never worked. It was until the 1700s, way after the 15th century that telescopes and microscopes were innovated to understand bacteria and viruses. From a scientific point of view, it was impossible to detect the disease through sight and touch. Thus, advanced technologies were required to further establish the cause of the plague.

A century later, the name of the bacterium was found and it was important to find long-term solutions to the problem. Lives were lost, but not all hope was gone because it was established that the wild rodents contributed to the condition. Byrne explains that adherence to traditional theories affected the explanation of the plague in the past (34). Religion was erased as a cause of death and not the only solution was to find ways of getting rid of the rodents (rats) through several means. In the later years, people were funded for running the rat-trapping schemes. Cantor explains that rats were identified as equally catastrophic to humanity and they had to be killed (172). The population of deaths drastically reduced, but the only intention was to reduce the possibility of re-occurrence. From a logical point of view, the disease was attributed to several social and hygiene problems. Getting rid of rats and killing them would never be sustainable if the relevant players did not exercise high standards of hygiene. Based on individual hygiene practices and religious principles, it is possible that some groups can be more affected as opposed to the others. Therefore, health and consistent checkups are encouraged because the Black Plague is likely to re-occur is the relevant measures are ignored.

Europe and other continents fund and engage in programs that reduce the occurrence of non-communicable and communicable disease because they know how the effects on a region can affect the rest of the world. The continent faced major economic drawbacks, political leaders died and people suffered from the traumatic effects of the plague. Nobody wants a repeat of the same. Therefore, everybody is extremely cautious when other regions have disease outbreaks. They remain very careful when cases of Ebola and Zika are reported because of their vulnerability to infections. Today, there are stricter immigration laws to prevent the entry of people who are suspected to be sick. Others are placed in quarantine to curb the disease before its spread. Such precautions are placed to ensure the countries that were affected by the plague can handle the situation better today, irrespective of scientific advancements.

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