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A history of the Black Death and its impact in late medieval Europe

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Nidha N.
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  1. Introduction
  2. Conditions in Europe on the eve of the black death
  3. Origin of the black death
  4. The disease
    1. Symptoms
    2. Treatment
    3. Spreading of the disease
  5. Reaction of the populace towards the black death
  6. Depopulation
  7. Impact of the black death
    1. Socio-economic impacts
    2. Impact on religion
    3. Impact on morals
    4. Impact on art & culture
    5. Impact on literature
    6. Impact on architecture
    7. Medicine
  8. Conclusion
  9. Bibliography

The Black Death was one of the deadliest pandemics in human history, peaking in Europe between 1347 C.E. and 1351 C.E, reducing the population of Europe by nearly half, and resulting in widespread socio-economic and other changes. Medieval people referred to this catastrophe as the "Great Pestilence", "Great Plague?, or ?Great Mortality?. The term "Black Death" first appears in 1833, derived from a striking late-stage sign of the disease, in which the sufferer's skin would blacken due to sub epidermal hemorrhages.
Medieval Europe enjoyed centuries of comparative warmth when the temperatures remained higher than normal. This warm period ended by the close of the thirteenth century, and the drop in temperatures and heavy rainfall that accompanied this change resulted in cold, wet and harsher winters and reduced harvests, manifesting in the Great Famine that struck much of North-West Europe in 1315 C.E and lasted for seven years. Even without the famine, the lack of technology to clear new fields for harvest meant that wheat, oats, hay, and consequently livestock were all in continuous short supply. This food scarcity resulted in malnutrition and consequently wakened immunity, making the populace more susceptible to infections. The malnutrition and diseases reduced the productivity of workers, creating even more food shortage and a vicious cycle of depression. Kings such as Edward III of England (1327 C.E. to 1377 CE.) and Philip VI of France (1328 C.E. to 1350 C.E.) finding their revenues decline as a result of this depression raised the fines and rents of their tenants, resulting in an even more deterioration of the standards of living. To compound the miseries, a pestilence of unknown origin, identified as anthrax, targeted the animals of Europe, notably sheep and cattle by 1318 C.E., further reducing the food supply and income of the peasantry

[...] Impact on Religion The sick affected by the Black Death sought refuge in monasteries and this led to virtually the entire clergy succumbing to the disease. This resulted in a mass influx of hastily trained and inexperienced clergy members, many of whom knew little of the discipline and rigor of the veterans they replaced. The seeds of the later Reformation movements thus owe their germination to the devastation wrought about to the medieval monasteries by the Black Death. The Black Death led to the emergence of new religious groups such as the flagellants who advocated that the plague was God's wrath on account of the sins committed by mankind. [...]


[...] The woefully inadequate sanitation made medieval urban Europe so disease- ridden that the mortality rate was already high even before the advent of the Black Death and no city could maintain its population without a constant influx of immigrants from the countryside. In 1798 C.E. Thomas Malthus, through his essay ?Essay on the Principle of Population? propounded a theory that when humans reproduce greatly to the extent that they go beyond the limits of food supplies, some sort of "reckoning" was inevitable. [...]


[...] (1997) The Cult of Remembrance and the Black Death in Six Central Italian Cities. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press. Daileader, Philip (2007). The Late Middle Ages. The Teaching Company. ISBN 978-1-59803-345-8 Geary, Patrick J. (1994). Living with the Dead in the Middle Ages. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. Gottfried, Robert S. (1983) The Black Death. New York: Free Press. Herlihy, David. (1995). The Black Death and the Transformation of the West. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Herlihy. (1997). The Black Death and the Transformation of the West. [...]

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