Difference between revisions of "Bubonic plague"

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{{Middle Ages}}
 
{{Middle Ages}}
An epidemic of the '''bubonic plague''' commonly called '''The Plague''' or the '''Black Death''' struck Europe and many parts of Asia between 1347 and 1351.  The plague was spread and transmitted by rats and other rodents, who [[Carrier|carried]] infected fleas in their fur.  Among the most prominent signs of the disease were the development of blackish colored swellings called "buboes."   
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An epidemic of the '''bubonic plague''' commonly called '''The Plague''' or the '''Black Death''' killed millions in Europe and many parts of Asia between 1347 and 1352.  The plague was spread and transmitted by rats and other rodents, who [[Carrier|carried]] infected fleas in their fur.  In all of recorded history, this epidemic has only two rivals: the plague of 542 and the [[flu]] epidemic of 1918. The long term effects affected the economy by causing a long-term labor shortage.  Artists often depicted the mass trauma using three popular cultural representations that surfaced in performance, poetry, and painting: the Triumph of Death, the Dance of the Dead, and Death and the Maiden.
 +
===Symptoms===
 +
The germ theory of disease had not been discovered, so the means of transmission and cure were a mystery to contemporary doctors. After the 3-7 day [[incubation period]], the sufferer would experience initial symptoms of chills, fever, diarrhea, headaches, and the swelling of the infected lymph nodes.  If it was untreated, 30-75% of those who contracted the plague died.
 +
 
 +
Among the most prominent signs of the disease were the development of blackish colored swellings called "buboes."   
 +
==Spread==
 
It spread rapidly along trade routes and especially the Silk Road.  It originated amongst the Mongols in Asia, who allowed their sacks of food to be exposed to rats and fleas that carried the fatal disease.  Traders brought it with them into the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe.  In four short years, 40 to 45% of the European population was lost to the plague, especially the poor.  The Mongols amplified the problem by using catapults to toss plague-ridden bodies over city walls, a practice seen as the precursor to biological warfare.
 
It spread rapidly along trade routes and especially the Silk Road.  It originated amongst the Mongols in Asia, who allowed their sacks of food to be exposed to rats and fleas that carried the fatal disease.  Traders brought it with them into the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe.  In four short years, 40 to 45% of the European population was lost to the plague, especially the poor.  The Mongols amplified the problem by using catapults to toss plague-ridden bodies over city walls, a practice seen as the precursor to biological warfare.
 
[[File:Blackdeath.jpg|thumb|450px]]
 
[[File:Blackdeath.jpg|thumb|450px]]
 
+
==Slow recovery==
 
The fatality rate was even higher in China, where an estimated 25 million died from it.  It took 100 years for Europe and China to recover, and a longer period of time for Islamic countries and the Middle East.  Egypt was hit particularly hard, with some areas not recovering for 500 years.
 
The fatality rate was even higher in China, where an estimated 25 million died from it.  It took 100 years for Europe and China to recover, and a longer period of time for Islamic countries and the Middle East.  Egypt was hit particularly hard, with some areas not recovering for 500 years.
 
+
==Impact on economy==
The germ theory of disease had not been discovered, so the means of transmission and cure were a mystery to contemporary doctors. After the 3-7 day [[incubation period]], the sufferer would experience initial symptoms of chills, fever, diarrhea, headaches, and the swelling of the infected lymph nodes. If it was untreated, 30-75% of those who contracted the plague died.
+
The era of the Black Death witnessed a series of important long-term changes in demographic behavior, agriculture, manufacturing, trade, and technology. Real wage series reflect the productivity increases from these changes and suggest that the Low Countries and England were able to resist to a greater extent the general tendency for wages to decline during the second leg of the demographic cycle that began with the Black Death. A wage gap thus began to emerge between the northwest and the rest of the continent after 1450.<ref>Sevket Pamuk, "The Black Death and the Origins of the 'Great Divergence' Across Europe, 1300-1600," ''European Review of Economic History'' 2007 11(3): 289-317, </ref>
 
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The plague weakened the prestige of the Catholic Church, which appeared helpless to stop it. Because of the gruesome nature of the disease, irrational fantasies became rampant in mideval europe. Jews were subsequently blamed by the Catholic Church for poisoning the wells of Europe in order to kill Christian children.
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The devastation of the serfs, who made up the vast majority of the population, also strengthened their socio-economic position. The scarcity of labour meant that, through proto-strikes, they could bargain with land-owners to improve their conditions of life. This led to the beginning of the end of [[feudalism]] in [[Europe]], as it weakened the force behind the success of the manors. The plague also created a demand for more centralized government that could respond effectively to disease.
 
The devastation of the serfs, who made up the vast majority of the population, also strengthened their socio-economic position. The scarcity of labour meant that, through proto-strikes, they could bargain with land-owners to improve their conditions of life. This led to the beginning of the end of [[feudalism]] in [[Europe]], as it weakened the force behind the success of the manors. The plague also created a demand for more centralized government that could respond effectively to disease.
  
 +
The Black Death spurred monarchies and city-states across much of Western Europe to formulate new wage and price legislation. These legislative acts splintered in a multitude of directions that to date defy any obvious patterns of economic or political rationality. A comparison of labor laws in England, France, Provence, Aragon, Castile, the Low Countries, and the city-states of Italy shows that these laws did not flow logically from new post-plague demographics and economics - the realities of the supply and demand for labor. Instead, the new municipal and royal efforts to control labor and artisans' prices emerged from fears of the greed and supposed new powers of subaltern classes and are better understood in the contexts of anxiety that sprung forth from the Black Death's new horrors of mass mortality and destruction, resulting in social behavior such as the flagellant movement and the persecution of Jews, Catalans, and beggars.<ref> Samuel Cohn, "After the Black Death: Labour Legislation and Attitudes Towards Labour in Late-Medieval Western Europe," ''Economic History Review'' 2007 60(3): 457-485, </ref>
 +
==Today==
 
The bubonic plague is still [[Endemic (epidemiology)|endemic]] to some parts of the world, such as Tanzania.<ref>
 
The bubonic plague is still [[Endemic (epidemiology)|endemic]] to some parts of the world, such as Tanzania.<ref>
 
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20070517/hl_afp/tanzaniahealthplague_070517161454</ref>  In May 2007, there was an outbreak of the bubonic plague among animals in Denver, Colorado.<ref>http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/05/21/bubonic.plague.reut/index.html?section=cnn_latest</ref>  However, due to modern sanitation in Western countries, it is unlikely to ever reach epidemic proportions again.
 
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20070517/hl_afp/tanzaniahealthplague_070517161454</ref>  In May 2007, there was an outbreak of the bubonic plague among animals in Denver, Colorado.<ref>http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/05/21/bubonic.plague.reut/index.html?section=cnn_latest</ref>  However, due to modern sanitation in Western countries, it is unlikely to ever reach epidemic proportions again.
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==Further reading==
 
==Further reading==
 
* Cantor, Norman. ''In the Wake of the Plague: The Black Death and the World It Made'' (2002)  [http://www.amazon.com/Wake-Plague-Black-Death-World/dp/0060014342/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1240217033&sr=1-3 excerpt and text search]
 
* Cantor, Norman. ''In the Wake of the Plague: The Black Death and the World It Made'' (2002)  [http://www.amazon.com/Wake-Plague-Black-Death-World/dp/0060014342/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1240217033&sr=1-3 excerpt and text search]
 +
* Cohn, Samuel. "The Black Death: End of a Paradigm", ''American Historical Review'' 2002 107(3)
 
* Gottfried, Robert S. ''The Black Death: Natural and Human Disaster in Medieval Europe'' (1985) [http://www.amazon.com/Black-Death-Natural-Disaster-Medieval/dp/0029123704/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1256619324&sr=1-1 excerpt and text search]
 
* Gottfried, Robert S. ''The Black Death: Natural and Human Disaster in Medieval Europe'' (1985) [http://www.amazon.com/Black-Death-Natural-Disaster-Medieval/dp/0029123704/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1256619324&sr=1-1 excerpt and text search]
 +
* Naphy, William G., and Andrew Spicer. ''Plague: Black Death & Pestilence in Europe'' (2004)
  
 
== References ==
 
== References ==

Revision as of 05:07, 27 October 2009

Part of the series on
The Middle Ages
Historical Periods

Early Middle Ages (6th-10th century)
High Middle Ages (11th-13th century)
Late Middle Ages (14th-15th century)

Medieval History

Holy Roman Empire
Investiture Conflict
Black Death
Vikings
The Crusades

Medieval Society

Medieval religion
Medieval politics
Feudalism

An epidemic of the bubonic plague commonly called The Plague or the Black Death killed millions in Europe and many parts of Asia between 1347 and 1352. The plague was spread and transmitted by rats and other rodents, who carried infected fleas in their fur. In all of recorded history, this epidemic has only two rivals: the plague of 542 and the flu epidemic of 1918. The long term effects affected the economy by causing a long-term labor shortage. Artists often depicted the mass trauma using three popular cultural representations that surfaced in performance, poetry, and painting: the Triumph of Death, the Dance of the Dead, and Death and the Maiden.

Symptoms

The germ theory of disease had not been discovered, so the means of transmission and cure were a mystery to contemporary doctors. After the 3-7 day incubation period, the sufferer would experience initial symptoms of chills, fever, diarrhea, headaches, and the swelling of the infected lymph nodes. If it was untreated, 30-75% of those who contracted the plague died.

Among the most prominent signs of the disease were the development of blackish colored swellings called "buboes."

Spread

It spread rapidly along trade routes and especially the Silk Road. It originated amongst the Mongols in Asia, who allowed their sacks of food to be exposed to rats and fleas that carried the fatal disease. Traders brought it with them into the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe. In four short years, 40 to 45% of the European population was lost to the plague, especially the poor. The Mongols amplified the problem by using catapults to toss plague-ridden bodies over city walls, a practice seen as the precursor to biological warfare.

Blackdeath.jpg

Slow recovery

The fatality rate was even higher in China, where an estimated 25 million died from it. It took 100 years for Europe and China to recover, and a longer period of time for Islamic countries and the Middle East. Egypt was hit particularly hard, with some areas not recovering for 500 years.

Impact on economy

The era of the Black Death witnessed a series of important long-term changes in demographic behavior, agriculture, manufacturing, trade, and technology. Real wage series reflect the productivity increases from these changes and suggest that the Low Countries and England were able to resist to a greater extent the general tendency for wages to decline during the second leg of the demographic cycle that began with the Black Death. A wage gap thus began to emerge between the northwest and the rest of the continent after 1450.[1]

The devastation of the serfs, who made up the vast majority of the population, also strengthened their socio-economic position. The scarcity of labour meant that, through proto-strikes, they could bargain with land-owners to improve their conditions of life. This led to the beginning of the end of feudalism in Europe, as it weakened the force behind the success of the manors. The plague also created a demand for more centralized government that could respond effectively to disease.

The Black Death spurred monarchies and city-states across much of Western Europe to formulate new wage and price legislation. These legislative acts splintered in a multitude of directions that to date defy any obvious patterns of economic or political rationality. A comparison of labor laws in England, France, Provence, Aragon, Castile, the Low Countries, and the city-states of Italy shows that these laws did not flow logically from new post-plague demographics and economics - the realities of the supply and demand for labor. Instead, the new municipal and royal efforts to control labor and artisans' prices emerged from fears of the greed and supposed new powers of subaltern classes and are better understood in the contexts of anxiety that sprung forth from the Black Death's new horrors of mass mortality and destruction, resulting in social behavior such as the flagellant movement and the persecution of Jews, Catalans, and beggars.[2]

Today

The bubonic plague is still endemic to some parts of the world, such as Tanzania.[3] In May 2007, there was an outbreak of the bubonic plague among animals in Denver, Colorado.[4] However, due to modern sanitation in Western countries, it is unlikely to ever reach epidemic proportions again. [5]

Further reading

  • Cantor, Norman. In the Wake of the Plague: The Black Death and the World It Made (2002) excerpt and text search
  • Cohn, Samuel. "The Black Death: End of a Paradigm", American Historical Review 2002 107(3)
  • Gottfried, Robert S. The Black Death: Natural and Human Disaster in Medieval Europe (1985) excerpt and text search
  • Naphy, William G., and Andrew Spicer. Plague: Black Death & Pestilence in Europe (2004)

References

  1. Sevket Pamuk, "The Black Death and the Origins of the 'Great Divergence' Across Europe, 1300-1600," European Review of Economic History 2007 11(3): 289-317,
  2. Samuel Cohn, "After the Black Death: Labour Legislation and Attitudes Towards Labour in Late-Medieval Western Europe," Economic History Review 2007 60(3): 457-485,
  3. http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20070517/hl_afp/tanzaniahealthplague_070517161454
  4. http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/05/21/bubonic.plague.reut/index.html?section=cnn_latest
  5. http://wcbstv.com/national/topstories_story_142072816.html