The people of medieval Europe weren’t new to epidemics, but no epidemic had prepared them for the plague. The outbreak of the black plague, which happened between 1347 and 1351, affected Europe greatly. The effects changed Europe in several ways. It is the most unforgettable plague in European history.
How did the black plague start? So to know the history of the Black Death, it’s inevitable to go back to how it began.
It was more of a bubonic plague, a disease caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis. The bacterium spreads among rodents (especially wild rodents), where they stay in high density. You might come across a mention of the plague in a bubonic plague essay, as well.
The majority believed that the plague most likely came to Europe through the trade routes by ship overseas. This disease had been gaining popularity in the East since around 1322. By 1343, the plague had infected the troops of the Mongol Golden Horde. The troops, who were besieging Caffa (Crimea) on the Black Sea, were beginning to die of the plague. Djanibek had their corpses thrown over the Italian-held city’s walls, infecting the Caffa people with them. A Caffa resident migrated by ship, and the plague spread to the Sicilian port and other places inland.
Europeans were at a loss for what to do as the Black Death number of deaths increased rapidly. The symptoms were fever, vomiting, black bumps on the skin, bloody coughs, and swollen lymph nodes. Within three days, infected people died without anyone knowing how to help them.
The faithful believed they could, at least, try to save the souls of the dead people by burying them in consecrated ground. The city officials made a massive cemetery named East Smithfield, believed to allow God to identify the corpses as Christians.
The popular statistics of the Black Death confirm that the plague was as severe as people feared.
In just a few months, about 60 percent of Florence’s population died from the plague.
The plague killed between 75 million and 250 million people, about 60% of Europe’s population.
With Europe taking the biggest hit, the disease affected the following countries:
The pandemic had enormous consequences, so it remains relevant to researchers even after many years. Nowadays, students often get school assignments to write essays on the plague topic. Moreover, it needs special knowledge and skills. Therefore, students search for some opportunities to deliver the assignment. Using free paper samples helps a student write flawlessly. Studying the most interesting examples for the Black Death essay helps you immerse yourself in that time and gain a broader perspective when writing your own paper. Those free samples serve as a guide to knowing the most important things to major in. Written by professionals, the examples are an excellent source of many incredible facts and other useful information about the Black Death for students.
While some people survived the Black Death, they had the after-effects of the plague to deal with.
Generally, the most pronounced impact of the Black Death was on the population. Although today, the population of European cities like London reflects no decline, the effects of the population decline after the plague are still present. Arising from the vast population decline, the consequences include the following:
A significant outcome of this is the change it brought to the European medical system. It became obvious that traditional medical practices were not totally reliable after all. As doctors tried to cure people affected by the disease, they also got affected and died.
By 1349, people came to be convinced that the plague was dynamic – the cure wasn’t what made the survivors cured. They noticed the same cure could kill another infected person – implying that the cure itself had no effect. Doctors and caregivers saw the problems of accepting the knowledge of the past without adapting to current circumstances. Additionally, hospitals changed from isolation centers for sick people to regular health centers.
The art of medieval times was not left behind as far as the Black Death was concerned. After the Black Death, artworks like sculptures and paintings were more realistic. Furthermore, the majority of the art pieces started having mortality and the history of the Black Death as their central themes.
The Dance of Death (commonly called Dance Macabre) was one of the most famous motifs of the epidemic. The motif was a suggestive representation of a being – demise, claiming various people to come with him.
After the plague, women got higher status, freedom, and general recognition. Before the plague, women only had a few rights – they could do some jobs and not marry whomever they wanted. Following the death of many men who were breadwinners, women gained the right to own their land, choose a marriage partner, cultivate businesses owned by a late family member, and run more important businesses like taverns and textile businesses.
The area of women’s rights is one of the few positive outcomes after the Black Death.
The socioeconomic change that occurred after the plague can’t be overstated. The change happened whether the people wanted it or not. No one was unaffected by the socioeconomic shift in medieval Europe after the Black Death.
The king was the supreme leader and owner of all the medieval European land. He often allotted land portions to his nobles, who employed serfs to plant on the land. The serfs didn’t gain anything except shelter – their food was from their cultivation. Since Europe was overpopulated before the plague, the serfs had to work like slaves until death. In contrast, after the Great Plague, the situation changed dramatically.
The graph below shows how the aftermath of the Black Death reduced socioeconomic inequality in Europe in the 14th century.
The share of the wealth of the richest 10% in Europe, 1300-2010
The labor of serfs has become more valuable to the nobles. Since the great depopulation reduced the workforce, the serfs could negotiate for wages and better treatment. The lords (nobles) had no choice, as they had to feed their families and pay tithes to the king. The situation change helped the lower classes afford better things for themselves.
The helplessness people, both the rich and poor, felt was probably one of the scariest effects of the disease. They lived in constant fear that they would get infected without any forewarning. It became a normal practice to bury several family members in pits daily. Everything was happening so fast, and conventional systems and models proved ineffective.
The devastating experience of the survivors brought a shift in different aspects from the general view of medicine to agriculture. Although plague outbreaks would occur after the 14th century, the plague takes “the prize” for creating the greatest historical impact.