Plagues in England: Death Is in the Air Essay

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German scientist and satirist, Georg C. Lichtenberg, once said, “Sickness is mankind's greatest defect.” Sickness affects everyone, no matter where one is from or how one lives. Even in today’s world with modern medicine, sickness runs rampant. If one were to think back to when the only cures society had were rituals, a prime example of sickness in a society is England. Recalling the plagues in England, one can easily see the two prominent plagues that struck, along with how they affected English economy and culture. In the 1300’s, England was struck with a plague called the Bubonic Plague, better known as the “Black Death.” Historians believe this disease arrived by ship at a seaport in modern day Ukraine (Byrne 1). Fleas living on…show more content…
Again, the source of the epidemic was unknown to the citizens therefore treatment was futile. In just a week, the plague took 7,165 people’s lives; the total death toll was near 70,000 (Great 1). One account of this plague is found in Defoe’s “Great Plague in London” which states: Another ran about naked, except a pair of drawers about his waist, crying day and night. As a man that Josephus mentions, who cried, "Woe to Jerusalem!" a little dreadful God!" and said no more, but repeated these words continually, with a voice and countenance full of horror, a swift pace; and nobody could ever find him to stop or rest or take any sustenance, at least that ever I could hear of. (p. 1) One might say that after reading this story, the Great Plague of London drove people to madness. The ones who died from the Great Plague were buried in huge pits, until it ended in 1666 when the Great Fire of London destroyed most of the city (Great 1). The plagues caused much more than death; they brought with them economic hardships. When the Black Death struck, rural landlords with abundant crops began losing labor. Peasants wanted cheaper rent along with higher wages; this caused tension between landowners and peasants (Borsch 57). Of course, the landlords refused their offers, leaving many families without jobs. Because peasants could not find work, it only made sense to move to the city.

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