The Black Death Bubonic Plague Essay Research

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The Black Death (Bubonic Plague) Essay, Research Paper The Bubonic plague is a contagious disease, which can reach epidemic proportions, transmitted to humans by the fleas of an infected rat. The most telltale sign of the plague is the enlarged lymph nodes in the groin, armpit, or neck. The name for the Bubonic plague originated from the name for the swollen lymph nodes: Buboes. The disease is also called the Black Death. The reason for this nickname might have been the black spots on the skin or the purplish tint on an infected person?s skin. The Black Death is known as the most fatal disease of the middle ages. The bacteria called Yersinia Pestis causes the disease. The whole cycle begins with an infected rat. A rat flea (Xenopsylla Cheopis) bites the rat and the bacteria

fills the stomach of the flea completely full. This makes it so the flea cannot digest any blood. The flea becomes so overwhelmingly hungry that it sucks blood into its already full stomach. This causes the flea to vomit, thus spreading the bacteria. The first symptoms of infection are headaches, nausea, vomiting, and aching joints. As the disease progresses, enlarged lymph nodes, chills, high fever (101 to 105 degrees), and prostration occur. The bacteria may also invade the lungs in a form of the plague, pneumonic plague. Pneumonic plague is rapidly fatal and can be transmitted from person to person. Death may occur within about four days for bubonic plague, less for pneumonic plague. The mortality rate for pneumonic plague is nearly 100%, while bubonic plague is 50-75%. The

first appearances of this disease may have occurred in 542 AD, but the first major outbreak did not occur until the 14th century. In Europe, this outbreak killed one third of Europe?s population–25 million people–in only 5 years. In the late 1340s, native people of China began dying from a mysterious illness. A couple years later, several Italian merchants returned from a trip to the Black Sea, ill from this mysterious disease. Rats escaped from the ship and the plague rapidly spread to the city, then the countryside, and eventually the majority of Europe. Death was everywhere; in some cities, the dead outnumbered the living. The plague caused drastic changes for many people. Because of all the deaths, there were serious labor shortages. Workers demanded higher wages, but

landlords refused. These conflicts caused peasant revolts in England, France, Belgium, and Italy. Even the whole idea of death changed. Death was no longer represented by heavenly beings, but rather as an elderly woman with a black cloak and wild, snakelike hair. It was during the Bubonic plague that anger toward the Roman Catholic Church intensified and the persecution of Jews intensified. As the number of church clergy increased, many individuals began to suspect the Church officials were responsible for the spread of the Bubonic Plague. With the goal of dispelling this new fear of the clergy, a group of people called ?flagellants? emerged. They placed blame for the spread of the plague on the sins of men and women. They taught that God was punishing these sins with the plague.

The group traveled from town to town, congregating in the center of the town. Participants would sit in a circle and beat themselves with a scourge. A scourge was a wooden stick with three or four leather pieces attached to one end. There was a sharp iron spike about an inch long at the end of each leather whip. However, the flagellants? ?cure? failed to help anyone. Instead, their practice of traveling town to town actually helped spread the disease. In 1349, Pope Clement VI declared them to be heretical. Unfortunately, while most of the flagellants? ideas died out, one of them didn?t. The flagellants had helped to spread the belief that the Jews infected the city?s wells with contaminated vials. Accusations against the Jews were bad enough, but they became worse when it was