Black Death Cause and Effect

Topics: Black Death, Yersinia pestis, Bubonic plague Pages: 8 (3181 words) Published: July 9, 2013

The Causes and Effects of The Black Death

The Bubonic Plague or the Black Death has been in the history books since the medieval times. This deadly disease has claimed nearly 1.5 million lives in Europe (Gottfried). The Black Death hit Europe in October of 1347 and quickly spread through most of Europe by the end of 1349 and continued on to Scandinavia and Russia in the 1350s. Not only did the plague effect the European population by killing one-third to two-thirds (Gottfried), it also hurt the social and economic structures of every European society. How it spread

The Black Death actually first appeared in the Himalayan region around 1250 AD. There are several theories as to how the disease made its way to Europe. One theory is that since the plague is transmitted from a bite of a flea, that fleas that lived on marmots that were indigenous to the region were the original transporters (Clay,1).The first recorded appearance of the plague in Europe was at Messina, Sicily in October of 1347. It was believed to have arrived on trading ships that came from the Black Sea, past Constantinople and through the Mediterranean (Gottfried). This route was used to bring import items such as silks and porcelain, which were carried overland to the Black Sea from as far away as China (Gottfried). No one know the exact point of origin of the Black Death but what most scholars will agree with is that the disease reach Europe by rodents. The reason given was due to the climatic shifts in the area which caused a shortage of food. The disease ridden rodents’ migration put them in contact with human populations, thus, putting humans in contact with the disease carrying fleas. So many people were impacted because most people lived in very crammed and tight spaces. This also made waste disposal an issue, which caused people to just tip their waste out the window of their home, bringing the rats. Because everyone was so close, the fleas could easily infect hundreds of people in one day, so no one was safe (Gottfried). The people that did manage to escape death was due to the fact that their immune systems being able to withstand the plague (Gottfried). Types of Plague

What killed so many wasn’t due to just one type of plague going around; The disease that devastated Europe was caused by three different types of plague: bubonic, pneumonic, and septicemic. All three are bacterial infections caused by Yersinia pestis (Gottfried). The most common form was the bubonic plague. Fleas that lived on the plague-infected rats spread the bubonic plague (Gottfried). After 6 days people who were infected with this strain would develop flu-like symptoms and blood pressure drops, heartbeats faster, and a sudden fever erupts, accompanied by chills, weakness, and headache. Next, a black pus filled bump surrounded by an inflamed red ring shows up at the place that was bitten (Gottfried). The lymph node would begin to swell with pus. When the enlarged lymph nodes would burst they would also emit dark colored blood and pus. This is how the name "Black Death" came to be coined (Vunguyen). A second type of plague was that of pneumonic. This plague could spread with a sneeze and could quickly jump from person to person and though it was less common than the bubonic form, but more deadly. This form was contracted through breathing in a mutated, airborne strain of the bacteria. The infected person would experience fluid building up in the lungs. This very unfortunate circumstance would, in turn, cause suffocation of the infected individual. This particular form of the bacteria would cause death within a short time span, usually two or three days (Boeckl). The third type of plague was speticemic plague. Though it was the least common out of the three, it was the deadliest. Septicemic plague was carried in the blood and was contracted only through blood-to-blood contact. The person infected with this type would develop a high fever...

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"The Black Death, 1348." EyeWitness to History - history through the eyes of those who lived it. N.p., 2001. Web. July 2013.
Boeckl, Christine. "The Pisan Triumph of Death and the Papal Constitution Benedictus Deus." Artibus et Historiae 18.36 (1997): 55-61. Web.
Clay, C. "Causes and effects of the black death in Europe." N.p., Aug. 2008. Web. <>.
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