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The Black Death

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“We see death coming into our midst like black smoke, a plague which cuts off the young, a rootless phantom which has no mercy for fair countenance. Woe is me of the shilling of the armpit…It is of the form of an apple, like the head of an onion, a small boil that spares no-one. Great is its seething, like a burning cinder, a grievous thing of ashy colour… They are similar to the Seeds of the black peas, broken fragments of brittle sea-coal...cinders of the peelings of the cockle weed, a mixed multitude, a black plague like half pence, like berries…

-Welsh poet Ieuan Gethin, 1349

the black death

The Black Death

Mr. Garfinkel 1/30/14

the plague
“The Plague”
  • (The start)
  • The Black Death of 1347-1350 was an epidemic- “A widespread occurrence of an infectious disease at a particular place and time”
  • It consisted of a combination of three deadly diseases: the bubonic plague, septicaemic plague, and pulmonary plague
  • The first two diseases were carried by fleas which lived on the black rat, the last traveled through the air… and moved fast.
  • The disease originated in central Asia and travelled east to China and then west to Europe
  • Boils and blotches on the skin
  • Internal bleeding
  • Intolerable pain
  • Death
  • Conservative estimates are that about ⅓ of Europe’s population died
    • 1.4-2 million people in England
    • 8 million in France
    • 30 million in Europe as a whole
  • People who were more likely to die:
    • lived in cities/towns
    • poor
    • the young
  • Accelerated the decline of feudalism
    • Huge labor shortages (due to so many people dying)
    • What do you think this did to the price of labor?
    • Emergence of a more mobile labor force
  • Church weakened, but increased piety among individuals
    • People thought the disease was a way that God was punishing them
  • More popular uprisings
    • Peasants fed up with the demands on them