During the 1300's, a mysterious disease struck Europe. The Black Death was Europe's most deadly virus in history. It killed more people than the Vietnam War, WWI, and the Korean War combined (McNeill 84). In turn, the plague caused many changes to occur In Europe during its reign.
During the year 1347, a mysterious disease struck Europe. The Black Death, Europe's worst nightmare. The plague was said to be caused by unsanitary ships. These ships traveled back and forth along the Mediterranean Sea trading goods and spreading the plague. On these ships were usually 50 sailors and 100 rats, and on each rat were 50 fleas carrying the Bubonic Plague (Giblin 25). These fleas would jump onto humans and feed on their blood. While drinking the blood, the fleas would regurgitate some of it back into the person. After the process was completed the bitten person was now infected and their circulatory system is carrying the bacteria throughout the body (McEvedy 9).
The victims suffered from weakness, muscle pain, and usually a high fever of 104 degrees. As time progressed the infection worsened, the lymph nodes in the body would swell and become filled with pus, giving it a blackish color, thus giving the disease the name "The Black Death" (McEvedy 10). Once the person had made it to this stage the infection would soon overcome the body and they would die. Doctors were scrambling to find a cure for the plague, and botanists were searching for the right herb to cure the plague. After their dedicated attempts failed, the townspeople decided to throw the dead into nearby rivers to carry disease far away, but little did they know they were just polluting their drinking water. Although, in Avignon, France, one of Pope Clement's physicians came up with an idea to protect him from acquiring the plague. He suggested placing the Pope in the center of a ring of fire. The fire acting as an impenetrable wall of protection did work! The gian!
t fire burned for months non stop, fending off all bacteria and fleas in the area.
Ways of life also changed during the plague. Kings who were used to having hundreds of serfs tending the land, now only had a few. This was not sufficient enough for tending land so the royal family usually perished from starvation. Also during the reign of the plague a new type of warfare evolved. The primitive form biological warfare was introduced by the Mongols. The new tactic was to fling rotting corpses over the towering walls of the enemies with catapults. This technique was very effective, although they were only spreading the wrath of the plague deeper into Europe.
After six years of an intense battle, the plague disappeared, thus killing 33% of Europe's population. Millions upon millions died innocently while the Black Death survived evolution's test (Fettner 34). Although there is a famous saying, "History repeats itself," in 1664 history repeated itself with the same ferocity as in 1346. This time it struck only in London, England. In the one year of its terror, it killed 70,000 people (Gregg 200). By 1750 the Black Death had gradually faded out in western Europe. For the next 100 years the plague showed up in various villages, but remained tame.
The Black Death has shown that it has been the most lethal and society altering disease ever to strike Europe, but will it strike again?