Essay on This Is the End of the World: the Black Death by Barbara Tuchman

1504 Words Mar 29th, 2013 7 Pages
“This is the End of the World: The Black Death.” by Barbara Tuchman
History reveals the mid-14th century as a very unfortunate time for Europe. It was during this period when the continent became afflicted by a terrible plague. The source of the pathogen is known today as bubonic but was colloquially known as “The Black Death” to Europeans of the day. The plague caused a tremendous number of deaths and was a catalyst of change, severely impacting Europe’s cultural, political and religious institutions.
Not unlike many of today’s flu outbreaks, bubonic is thought to have also originated in China. As early as 1346, rumors surfaced in Europe of a terrible plague which had ravaged Central Asia, India, Asia Minor, the Middle East and
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With the graveyards filled to capacity, some resorted to throwing their dead into the dark waters of the Rhone. Eventually, mass graves were dug and provided a place to dump the corpses. In London, such burial pits sometimes proved inadequate to receive the dead, with bodies overflowing their layered stacks within the trenches. (684)
Despite the erratic mortality rates, ranging locally from 1/5 to 9/10 of a given population, they were nonetheless very high overall. Bohemia and Russia were untouched by the first round of the plague, but eventually were impacted in 1351. (684)
In rural areas the plague would typically last from four to six months and then subside. In urban areas the plague would sometimes disappear during the winter months, only to re-emerge in spring and continue its rage, unabated, for another 6 months. (684)
Certain classes of people seem to be at increased risk of contracting the disease. Those who were most at risk were in situations that demanded close contact with the infected: prisoners, doctors, clergymen and nurses. It was reported that women were more susceptible, (689) also the young and all persons who were weakened by poverty and a hard life. The malady was said to have “attacked especially the meaner sort and common people—seldom the magnates.” (688) However, it cannot be said that the ruling class escaped the plague unscathed. Among the causalities of this terrible disease was Alfonzo XI of Castile.

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