Around 1330, a horrible plague was reported to break out in China. Trade between Asia and Europe currently was frequent, and in 1347 rat-infested ships from China arrived in Sicily, bringing the disease with them. Since Italy was the center of European commerce, business, and politics, this provided the perfect opportunity for the disease to spread. To the Europeans, it seemed to come out of nowhere and kill everyone in its path. The bubonic plague, as it is called today, continued at 10-year intervals throughout the Middle Ages. It spread rapidly for a variety of reasons. Poor living conditions were probably the number one factor in the passing of this disease. People believed that washing themselves would open their pores and let the disease in, so bathing was rare. This of course, as we know today, only excelled the spread of the bubonic plague.
The bubonic plague had extreme effects on the demographics of Europe. The worst epidemic claimed the lives of nearly 25 million people, all in under five years. It took at least two centuries for Western Europe to regain its population. Urban populations recovered quickly, in some cases within a couple years, through immigration from the countryside because of increased opportunities in the cities. Rural population recovered itself slowly, because peasants left their farms for the cities. This time period in which the plague spread and killed so many people was known as the Black Death.
The Black Death had major effects on Europe. Wars stopped and trade slowed considerably. People were forbidden to gather in groups and religious services were suspended. Homes of infected people were sealed off to protect others from the plague. Businesses shut down their doors, having a huge impact of the economic aspects of Europe. Many people fled to the country to get away from where they thought was the hot spot for the plague. The bubonic plague changed the political, social, economical, and religious aspects of Europe forever and had an affect on the way things are today.
There were many consequences to the increases and declines of population and European society. People fled to the city because everyone around them way dying. So many died, in fact, that it had major effects on the population in Europe, which, in turn had effects on many aspects of society. Farmers who had provided food for people were fleeing and food was scarce. Government, trade, and commerce virtually came to a halt. No aspect of European society was not affected by the coming of the plague and by its duration.
The demography of Europe in the late middle ages can be easily related to overpopulation in the modern world. Poor living conditions due to overcrowding led to the rapid spread of the bubonic plague. If a plague was ever to break out in such places like China, Africa, or any other 3rd world country, it would be devastating. In Africa there is a major epidemic or the Ebola virus. It is still running ramped throughout the country, and it is not treatable by antibiotics. Poor living conditions contribute to the deadly position of this virus, and science has no known cure. If it was to ever spread to America the impact would be great and might be similar to the consequences of the bubonic plague in the middle ages. Overpopulation and overcrowding lead to poor living conditions which then lead to the rapid spread of any disease that may happen to come.
University/College: University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 12 November 2016
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