The Black Death of 1328
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The Black Death of 1328

The Black Death was one of the most famous events in world history. This killer plague took the lives of more than 25 million people between 1328 and 1351 in Europe alone.

In the 14th Century a killer plague spread worldwide and killed nearly everyone who caught it. Death was very quick, usually 2-4 days after the patient became ill.

It was named The Black Death because one of the symptoms was a blackening of the skin around the swellings that developed in the lymph nodes. They were red at first, then turned deep purple and finally black. When the physicians let out the blood, which they thought was one of the best ways of treating it, the blood was black, thick and vile smelling as there was a greenish scum mixed with it.

25 million people died from the plague in Europe alone where it started in 1328 and lasted until 1351. In England it raged from 1348 to 1350.

It is thought the plague originated in the Gobi Desert and was caused by flees on the back of rats. When the rats died the fleas attached themselves to humans who caught the plague from their bites or from another victim as it spread very quickly.

Physicians in the Middle Ages had no idea what caused the disease, neither did the victims, so there was no known cure, the symptoms were terrible and very quick.

  • Painful swelling of the lymph nodes in the armpits, legs, neck or groin.
  • Very high fever
  • Sickness
  • Bleeding in the lungs
  • Mentally disorientated
  • An intense desire to sleep. If the patient did so it was always fatal.
  • Thick black blood mixed with a greenish scum which smelt vile.

The physicians worked round the clock dealing with the patients and they made herbal concoctions in an attempt to cure them.

  • Headaches - Rose, lavendar, sage and bay
  • Sickness - Wormwood, mint and balm
  • Lung problems - liquorice and comfrey
  • Cleansing the patient - vinegar.

When the plague was at its height people believed that it was important to make a final comfession of their sins to a priest. But so many priests died of The Black Death most people had to be buried without any prayers being said or a funeral service being held.

One unlikely cure was a gold and silver pomander filled with sweet-smelling petals and herbs. The smell was supposed to freshen the air and keep the plague away but it didn't work. The owner caught the Black Death and died and the pomander was discovered after the victim's death.

The Aftermath of the Black Death

Not only was The Black Death one of the most historic events in the world, it also changed the course of history and had major consequences.

  • Prices and wages rose
  • More value was placed on labour as so many people had died there was a shortage of labourers
  • Farmland was turned over to pasture as it was easier to maintain
  • Peasants moved from the country to the towns
  • The Black Death caused the decline of the Feudal System
  • The power and influence of the church went into decline as people became disillusioned and this resulted in the English Reformation.

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Comments (2)

I'm out of votes for today, so I'll have to stop back to vote on this, but you did a nice job with it. I read a book set in this time period when I was in high school, I Promessi Sposi, (I hope I spelled that right, it's been a few years), and I did a research paper on bubonic plague in college, and I really just wanted to compliment you on your research and making a grim topic readable. Again, nice job.

A nice job. Read about some years back and some other plagues. Its really quite frightening. I do thank god for technological advancement

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