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Black Death in Europe Essay

European people faced great hardship during the years 1347-1352 suffering from the effects of the Bubonic Plaque. Prior to this epidemic hitting Europe the population of Europe was growing faster than the food supplies could keep up with and economic crisis was beginning to take place. Once the Bubonic Plaque started spreading it took center stage and over population would not be an issue of concern any longer. The Bubonic Plaque, also referred to as the Black Death, was caused by a bacterial infection found mostly in rodents and their fleas. The infected fleas would come into contact with humans and death would occur in less than a week. Humans suffered from high fever, aching limbs, and lymph nodes would swell and turn black. Humans also contributed to the spread of the plaque by non-effected people coming into contact with the body fluids of an effected person. As the plaque spread the people of Europe found themselves shifting from community and family to worrying about survival of the individual. Men who worked with animals contracted the plaque and died.

Women that contracted the plaque that survived could no longer carry a child and were abandoned by their husbands. Children found themselves fighting to survive as their parents were taken by the plaque. Families that did have children would abandoned their children who became infected, the plaque would kill children within hours of contraction if not immediately. In attempt to escape the plaque people that lived in the cities often traveled to the country and most often taking the plaque with them only cause more death. Europe lost roughly one third of the population due to the Bubonic Plaque. The economy during this time also saw a great shift from the twenty five million people lost due to the plaque. Feudalism, which was strong before the plaque, weakened as European people realized that they could work and survive on their own. Many of the farm workers died leaving the land in bad shape which meant poor crop return and a declining food supply. The famers and workers that managed to survive the plaque were able to demand more wages from the knights, baron, or king that owned the land they worked. The cows, goats, sheep, and other live stock that were used for food supply were often shared among communities but as people feared for survival these animals were brought inside homes to prevent exposure only causing more death from spread of the plaque and other diseases.

Lastly the economy suffered from lack of trade with other counties. The Bubonic Plaque’s massive death toll left other countries fearful of trading goods adding to the already hard economy. While the Bubonic Plaque did not completely vanish until late in the fifteenth century the effects on life and economy during the peak of contamination was dramatic. In a five year span Europe experienced entire towns and villages being left lifeless from the Bubonic Plaque. The bacterial infection spread without regard to social and economical class, killing both adults and children. Those that did survive the plaque found new opportunities through negotiating and rebelling.


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