The Black Plague

Topics: Black Death, Bubonic plague, Yersinia pestis Pages: 5 (1919 words) Published: May 13, 2013
The Black Death
What was it?
The black death was a medieval pandemic that swept through Europe from China and was deadly and highly contagious. By the end of the outbreaks in Europe, a little more than a third of their population(25 million people) was wiped out by the plague.

What Caused It?
The Xenopsylla cheopis flea. These fleas carried a germ that was deadly to the rats and humans. The fleas would attach themselves to the backs of rats and infect them with the Black Death. The fleas bit into their victims literally injecting them with the disease. Death could be very quick for the weaker victims, such as the rats. When the rats would die, the fleas would have to find a new host to live off of, which could also be humans, so this is how the disease started in humans.

There were 3 different forms of the plague:

1.) The Bubonic Plague: (the most common) derives its name from the swellings, or buboes, that appeared on a victim's lymph nodes which are located in the neck, armpits or groin. These tumors could range in size from that of an egg to that of an apple.

2.) The Pneumonic Plague: attacked the respiratory system and was spread by merely breathing in the airborne droplets(exhaled air) of an infected person. It was the most deadly of the 3 variations.

3.) Septicemic plague: which spreads in the bloodstream, it comes either via fleas or from contact with plague-infected body matter.

In Tuscany, Italy, a man by the name of Francesco Petrarca wrote to himself about the fear he had from the wrath of the plague. He also writes about the devastation and tragedies he had encountered in his city. “O what has come over me? Where are the violent fates pushing me back to? I see passing by, in headlong flight, time which makes the world a fleeting place. I observe about me dying throngs of both young and old, and nowhere is there a refuge. No haven beckons in any part of the globe, nor can any hope of longed for salvation be seen. Wherever I turn my frightened eyes, their gaze is troubled by continual funerals: the churches groan encumbered with biers, and, without last respects, the corpses of the noble and the commoner lie in confusion alongside each other. The last hour of life comes to mind, and, obliged to recollect my misfortunes, I recall the flocks of dear ones who have departed, and the conversations of friends, the sweet faces which suddenly vanished, and the hallowed ground now insufficient for repeated burials. This is what the people of Italy bemoan, weakened by so many deaths; this is what France laments, exhausted and stripped of inhabitants; the same goes for other peoples, under whatever skies they reside. Either it is the wrath of God, for certainly I would think that our misdeeds deserve it, or it is just the harsh assault of the stars in their perpetually changing conjunctions. This plague-bearing year has borne down on humankind and threatens a tearful slaughter, and the highly charged air encourages death. From his diseased heavenly pole, cruel Jupiter looks down, and from there he rains upon the earth diseases and grievous mortality. The merciless Fates rush to sever the threads of life all at once, if they can: seeing so many ashen faces of the wretched common people, and so many seeking gloomy Tartarus, I fear that from on high they may have been granted what they wish. Just thinking of these things, I confess I am frightened and I see before me the snares of imminent death. For where could I hide my head, when neither the sea nor the land nor the rocks full of dark caves show themselves to the one who flees, because death, rushing impetuously into even safe hiding-places, overcomes all things. Thus, like the mariner caught in a dangerous storm, before whose eyes cruel Neptune has sucked down the other ships in the convoy, who hears the fragile keel cracking in the belly of his ship and the splintering of the oars as they are...
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