The Black Plague struck Europe for the first time in the 15th century, wiping out one third of the entire western population. This pandemic changed the way the people who were affected thought and how they lived their lives. The Europeans’ actions within the 15th through 18th centuries were influenced by the need to control the disease, fear, and their own self-interest.
The Europeans tried many ways to maintain the plague from getting worse and spreading all throughout Europe and other countries. They took extreme measures to ensure that those who were infected stayed isolated from the rest of the population, although this didn’t stop the disease from proliferating. Authorities would put houses that had been visited by the virus into lock down, not allowing anyone in or out, even if their life depended on it. Some died not from the disease, but of starvation from being confined in their homes, as Doc. 5 states. Other ways of attempting to tame the pandemic also affected the economy for the worse. Money had to be spent “for the expense of pest houses to quarantine the diseased” (Doc. 6), along with rightfully disposing of the bodies later on. Also, as Daniel Defoe describes in A Journal of the Plague Year (Doc. 14), Europe turned away all foreign trade manufacturers in fear of outsiders infecting more people with the disease. This greatly affected the imports and exports of Europe and the ability for other countries to obtain goods from them.
The fear inflicted on the Europeans by the Black Plague had a big influence on their actions. Much of the upper class fled Europe to escape the risk of being infected, which caused the virus to be mainly “directed towards the poor”, as Nicolas Versoris says in his Book of Reason (Doc. 3), resulting in extensive casualties in the middle and lower classes. It kept people from traveling to places that may carry the disease, such as the group of gentlemen Sir John Reresby, and English...
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