The Significance of the Black Death in Europe

1916 Words Dec 2nd, 2013 8 Pages
The Significance of The Black Death In Europe The Black Death, which swept across Europe between 1347 and 1351, had significance in all areas of life and culture: economic, social, psychological, and even religious. It ushered in a new age for all of Europe, in many ways speeding up the change from the medieval to modern era. In under a five year time span, one-third of Europe’s population died. There is some speculation that the toll was actually more than one-third, and could have reached as much as one-half. Entire towns and cities were completely decimated by the illness in extremely brief periods of time. The arrival of the plague, and the speed with which it spread, struck panic across the continent as a whole. It would be …show more content…
Florence was not as fortunate, losing an estimated four-fifths of its population (Sherman, p 283). After the disease had traveled along most of the trade routes of Europe, its course became more scattered, touching Bavaria, making its way to Germany, and eventually reaching Britain. In Spain and Portugal, the plague came inland from the port cities at a slower pace than Italy and France. Spain was the only country to lose a ruling monarch to the disease, King Alfonse XI of Castile. He refused to leave his troops and isolate himself, becoming ill, and finally dying on March 26, 1350. There were few areas of Europe that escaped, those areas being lightly-populated, and lightly-traveled. Highly-populated cities suffered the most, losing huge numbers of inhabitants. It is estimated that Paris, for example, lost as much as half its population (Sherman, p 283). There has been some debate as to exactly which illness struck Europe. More than one type of plague exists, with the two most prevalent being the Bubonic and Pneumonic. There is also another form, Enteric Plague, which attacked the victim’s digestive system, and killed too quickly for any kind of diagnosis. The Bubonic Plague is carried by rodents, such as rats, and is transmitted to humans by the fleas who come from them. A person struck by the Bubonic Plague would experience a headache, chills, and fever.

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