The Black Death
Alicia A Davis
World History 103
October 29, 2009
The Black Death
Many hundreds of years ago, at a time when people feared the unknown, a darkness descended on the middle ages in the form of a plague that decimated thousands- both animal and human alike-creating chaos and terror and without the knowledge of how it began or how to end it the people desperately searched for medical, astronomical and religious reasons, and even found people to blame for the dreadful tragedy they called the Black Death. Once it began it raged through the populations taking most that it came in contact with making the death count many millions. In the end it ...view middle of the document...
The entire process only lasted a matter of days, but those few days were the most excruciatingly painful days in the suffererâ€™s life.
The plague was believed to have been endemic in China until the 1300â€™s when,
due to the expanding trade routes and intercultural exchanges it was taken via maritime trade and land caravans to the Mediterranean and then to Europe where it wiped out twenty thousand plus people (Bentley, et al, 2008). The people had no idea that when they created the roads and routes that would allow them to freely interact and trade with other cultures and societies, they would in affect be creating the pathways that would lead a predator more deadly than any they had ever known, right to their door steps. So in a sense they hastened the end of family and friends for the sake of progress. Does this suggest that progress for the sake of progress is bad and is it a risk that we are willing to sacrifice for?
The disease was originally thought to have been carried by rats, but this was later disproven when it was realized that it was in fact not the rats, but the fleas attached to the rat hosts who were the perpetrators (Alchin, 2006). In that time rats were a common occurrence so people did not give them a second thought and no one ever considered that it could be fleas. As the rats died of the disease the fleas were more than happy to find themselves new hosts, which they did, on humans (Bentley, et al, 2008). We do not think of fleas anymore today then people did back then unless it is related to our animals. We know that the people were ignorant to the fact that the fleas carried the disease and passed it to humans so they went looking for answers and solutions from the people and places they were familiar with.
The people needed some way to explain what was happening and the reasoning behind it so they called upon doctors, the church, and astronomers (well educated men) in the hopes that they could provide the answers that were so badly desired. The doctors had
no clues as to what was causing it, but they had theories that it might have something to
do with the alignment of several of the planets; Saturn, Jupiter and Mars (Sanders, et al, 2006; pg 391). There was a group of well-educated Frenchmen, who after some study, decided that poison-spewing storms, triggered by earthquakes and planetary forces, had brought on the epidemic (McCabe, 2002). I do not understand how aligning of planets can give us a disease. That just does not make any sense. I guess they searched for an explanation for something that was completely beyond their understanding at the time.
Doctors did try to prescribe things that they believed would help prevent from getting the plague and also things to help the symptoms of those already sick. The common belief was that the sickness was born on the air from the already infected and from the decaying bodies of the dead. The dead were being boarded up in their homes to attempt a measure of...