Paper # 2: The Great Plague
“An event of great agony is bearable only in the belief that it will bring about a better world. When it does not, as in the aftermath of another vast calamity in 1914-18, disillusion is deep and moves on to self-doubt and self-disgust,” stated by Barbara W. Tuchman, A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century. The Great Plague was the worst outbreak in England since the black death of 1348. The Great Plague began in 1665 until 1666 that lead to 68,596 deaths recorded in the city. The Plague had been around England for centuries, but in the year 1665 the most severe case called the “Great Plague” hit the country hard. London’s plague began to spread in April 1665 from the destitute suburbs of St. Giles through rat-infested alleys to small towns and made its way over to the city of London. The earliest occurrence of the disease began in the spring outside the city walls in St. Giles. The death rate was rapidly increasing within the weeks and peaked in September when 7,165 people died in one week. The plague germs were carried by fleas, which lived as parasites on rats. A disease of parasites carried on the body of rats caused the plague. City streets filled with garbage attracted them, especially in the lower class areas. The only way individuals at this time can get rid of their waste was to throw it out into the streets. This not only included the household garbage, but as well as human waste. The streets of London became very filthy during this decade. The filth that was lying around in the streets was a comfortable environment for the rats to began breeding. The filth on the streets was a perfect environment for the rats to raise its offspring and create a new living for themselves. Those who could have fled the country did so, such as the upper class. The nobility left the city for their houses in the country and the merchants, doctors and lawyers followed them. The parliament was not aloud to leave...
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Tuchman, Barbara Wertheim. A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century. Vol. 82. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1978. Print.
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