It was an event that changed everything in Medieval Europe. There was virtually no aspect of Medieval society that was not affected by the arrival of the plague in Europe. The lack of adequate knowledge or a significant response lead to the death of millions of people. With the loss of a significant portion of the populations of Europe there was also a distinct shift in society away from the ideas and views of the past. Organized religion suffered a great blow as the plague ravaged the clergy as much as the general population. Medical and sanitary knowledge was forced to advance as societies began to realize the dangers of their ways.
The arrival of the Black Death in Europe marks a pivotal moment in history. It retains the status as the greatest catastrophe in European history. The illness that fell upon the people could not be fought by the medicine or doctors of the time. The mortality rate of those afflicted ranged from 30-80% depending on when the infection occurred. Death came quickly to those afflicted and when one member of a household died there would surely be more in a few days. In Paris 800 died in one day, and the city was to lose close to 50% of it’s population. Florence would lose 80% of its citizens. London would lose one half of its people to the plague. Graveyards filled up and mass graves gave way to the dumping of bodies into rivers and streets. This act, besides encouraging other diseases clearly shows a change in the society’s views on death.
It was the common practice of most of the neighbors, moved no less by fear of contamination by the putrefying bodies than by charity towards the deceased, to drag the corpses out of the houses with their own hands, aided, perhaps, by a porter, if a porter was to be had, and to lay them in front of the doors, where any one who made the round might have seen, especially in the morning, more of them than he could count; afterwards they would have biers brought up or in default, planks, whereon they laid them.
(Boccaccio, TheDecameron)

Boccaccio’s description of what happened to those who died from the plague in Florence is key to understanding the impact of the plague on society.
When the plague arrived in Europe people felt compelled to find the cause of the scourge. Many people believed it was an act of God in punishment towards non-believers. This lead to widespread persecution of non-Christians. As time passed however, the plague got worse and people began to notice their living conditions. Beginning in the 1350’s there were widespread initiatives which aimed at raising the level of public sanitation and governmental regulation of public life in an effort to control the spread of the plague. The city of Pistola near Tuscany began to pass public regulations in the hope of curbing the plague’s rampage. They formed a crude form of a city quarantine and forbade citizens from leaving and prevented outsiders from entering the city. Though they did not have a complete understanding of the transmission of the plague, there was an active effort to make sure contact with the dead and dying was kept to a minimum. The processions of the victims were often burned or otherwise destroyed in hope of destroying the disease. Some regulations which had no effect on the plague instead acted to make city life cleaner and more bearable. The society did not know the source so they did what they could to upgrade their lives in the hope of tripping over the cause and stopping the plague.
From the most common beliefs about Medieval society many believe that people disliked taking baths. This is untrue. In fact there many public bath houses which were used until the mid 13th Century. This is an important aspect of the circumstances which made the spread of the plague so great. Since most of the general population was forced to live without baths, the substandard personal hygiene contributed to the appalling conditions which helped the spread of parasites and scavengers. Since the primary transporter of the plague is the rat it is logical to say that cities which threw their wastes and garbage into the street and