If there is one part of life that humans have trouble overcoming it is natural disasters. They are unexpected, incurable, and often unconquerable. One specific type of natural disaster is that of sickness. Plagues are disastrous evil afflictions of an epidemic disease causing a high rate of mortality. A historically famous plague in the fourteenth and fifteenth century is the Black or Bubonic Plague. The social and economic effects of the plague in Europe were harmful to the population and economy.
The Black Plague is an Oriental Plague marked by inflammatory boils and tumors of the glands. Such break outs were found in no other feverish disease. Inflammatory boils often ...view middle of the document...
These seven bad years of weather and starvation led to the greatest plague of all times. In 1347, endemic to Asia, The Black Death began spreading throughout Western Europe. Over the time of three years, the plague killed one third of the population in Europe with about twenty five million people dead. The Black Death killed more Europeans than any other endemic or war up to that time, greatly impacting the Church, family life, and the economy. These three social pillars were changed forever.
When the plague first reached Europe, people panicked. In hopes of survival, many began to abandon what they had and moved to villages and country sides in hope of fleeing from the disease. Children abandoned the father, husband abandoned the wife, wife the husband, one brother the other, one sister the other, etc. Some went to villas, others to villages in order to get a change in air. Where there had been no plague, there they carried it; if it was already there, they caused it to increase. The horror that people in Europe were feeling was traumatic to their state of mind. People often left those who they cared about to care for themselves. Since the cities were more populated, those who left for the country carried the disease with them and infected those who previously lived on the countryside. The Black Death created a race for survival and all were playing.
As they continued to run from the plague, the people of Europe felt that they needed to blame someone for causing the outrage. At this time in history, Christians persecuted Jews in Europe and blamed them for bad luck and even bad weather. As the plague attacked, whispers immediately started about poisonings of wells and of the air by Jews. The European Christian’s of the time were racist towards the Jews. The Jews were forbidden to work in government and were shunned from the towns. This forced them to live on the borders of the town in places called ghettos. Because of their isolation, the plague did not reach them immediately. Since they were not getting sick, the people automatically assumed the Jews were poisoning their wells as payback for their isolation. The Jews were thought to be irrational and were thought of as scapegoats. However, once the Jews began to fall sick from the plague as well, people began to show their responses in other ways.
Artists and musicians of the time became dark and seemingly depressed. Before the plague, the music was up-beat and frequently heard while the artwork was frequently viewed. However, during the plague music was played very depressing and the art became dull. The artists were surrounded by the horrific nature of the Black Death. Some artists tried to translate the terror and sadness into their art and music. Many of those artists left alive created paintings and woodcuts that showed an angry God and sometimes demon-like creatures shooting arrows of plague into the towns. These artists used their works to escape and to deal with what was...