The Epidemic is Here
The Black Plague, one of the most devastating out breaks in history, is an historical event brought about with a great depression throughout Europe. This plague brought out the worst in mankind during the time the plague ran its course. How do people behave, when there environment becomes life threatening? (Herlihy, 18). The Black Death accounted for nearly one third of the deaths in Europe. Due to the death of many people there were severe shortages in labors, during these dreadful times. There were riots throughout Europe, and the great mortality brought on by the plague ripped society apart. Individuals were fearful searching for explanation, but in the end the plague gave rise to the survivors such as high wages and available land that resulted from decreased population. There was now advancement opportunities that weakened social distinction. This disaster was a new beginning for some and the end for many. The effects of the Black Plague had long-term effects because it gave birth to the Renaissance and destroyed the Middle Ages.
The disease was so contagious and fatal that sick people allegedly passed on the infection by their glance alone (Herlihy, 27), people that were not sick started to seclude themselves. The Washington Post states, it was a terrible way to die. The article then states: “The people of Europe physiques were distorted and pain that was unbearable raced through their body, screams sounded out in the streets of Europe as they cried while they died. Through previous and subsequent epidemics moved relatively slowly, this one marched from place to place with such speed that several medieval medical authorities were convinced the disease was spread via glance. As one wrote: Instantaneous death occurs when the aerial spirit escaping from the eyes of the sick man strikes the healthy person standing near and looking at the sick,” (http://www.washingtonpost.com). According to Boccaccio, fathers and mothers refused to nurse and assist their children, as though they did not belong to them (Boccaccio, 9). Even close relatives of the infected individuals began to turn their shoulders when a sign of the plague appeared. Many people were left to die along. This was the unaffected way to say alive no matter how cruel this may appear. Nonetheless, the plague caused divisions between the healthy and the sick (Helihy, 59).
The Black Death was a sign from God many people believed. They believed this, because they believed in the end of the world (Lerner, 533). Many people learned about the plague and, were convinced that whatever the proximate cause of the disease, the ultimate cause was divine anger. The web site goes on to state: “It was a punishment from an angry God, a scourging of the world. Probably the most famous and exotic response to this was the flagellant movement. These were bands of people who wandered through towns and countryside doing penance in public. They inflicted all sort of punishments upon themselves, trying to atone for the evil of the world, sacrificing himself or herself for the worlds sin in imitation of Jesus. Society wondered at them and had extremely mixed feelings about them. Many common folk admired their piety and sacrifice, but most of the Church hierarchy condemned them,” (http://boisestate.edu/course/latemiddleages).
During the Black Plague the religious faith diminished. Most members of the clergy died from the plague due to constant exposure to the disease and the clergies that survived abandoned their Christian duties and fled. Prayer failed to stop deaths brought on by the plague. The priests and bishops couldn’t give answers to why God sent such awful punishment; this enraged the villagers. Multiple and anonymous burials called into doubt all of the reassuring hope that each body was destined for resurrection the sick had become the enemy (Herlihy, 62). For these reason many devoted follower stop...
Cited: Boccaccio, Giovanni. "Medieval Sourcebook: Boccaccio: The Decameron - Introduction." Internet History Sourcebooks Project. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Feb. 2013.
Herlihy, David. "The Black Death and the Transformation of the West." The Black Death and the Transformation of the West. John Rocco Roberto, 2005. Web. 01 Feb. 2013.
Late Middle Ages. Ed. Unknown. 2005. Boise University. 02 Feb. 2013 <www.boisestate.edu/courses/latemiddleages>.
Lerner, Robert E. "The Black Death and Western Europe Eschatological Mentalities." JSTOR. American Historical Association, n.d. Web. 03 Feb. 2013.
Yardley, Jonathan. "The Great Mortality." Washington Post 2005. Academic Search Prremier. EBSCO. Chicago Public Library. 01 Feb. 2013 <http://www.washingtonpost.com>.
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