Bubonic Plague How people in the Middle Ages reacted to and cured "the Great Plague".
Brief History • Commonly referred to as "Black Death" or "Great Death" or the "Great Plague" • 3 Plague Pandemics • 1st (Justinianic)- 6th- 8th centuries • 2nd- 14th- 19th centuries, which wiped out 1/3 - 2/3 of population • 3rd- Late 19th century • The most known plague was the 2nd Plague Pandemic, more modernly referred to as the "Black Death" which was most present in Europe
Black Death • Small pathogen that infected fleas which traveled by rats • Rats traveled by ship to new places, bringing disease with them, eventually infected humans • Symptoms included • Buboes (nasty welts on skin that oozed and bled) • Fever • Vomiting blood • Death came within 5-7 days
Civilian Reactions • Some quarantined themselves in small groups away from others • Ignored that this was happening, it was "unspeakable"
Civilian Reactions • Others went out • Drank excessively • Sang and celebrated • Lived life to the fullest
Medieval Medical Cures • Victims were instructed to vomit daily on an empty stomach • Drink warm ale with ginger to sweat out the sickness • Bloodletting • Used ginger to relieve nausea • Echinacea to boost immune system
More Medieval Cures • Animal cures • Ointments made from goose grease • Goat cheese mixed with bull blood to relieve headache
Spiritual Cures Used by Christians • Christian sect known as Flagellants would whip themselves to repent for sin, hoping they would be cured • Prayed • Would burn Jews in an attempt to please God
Scientific Explanations • Some physicians blamed • Astrological forces • Earthquakes or fogs • "Bad air"
How Christians Reacted • Blamed Jews • Thought that Jewish people were poisoning wells • Feb. 1349 2,000 Jews in Strasbourg were murdered by Christians • Similar events happened in Frankfurt, Mainz, and Cologne • Small Jewish communities were also terrorized • Thought it was a divine punishment
How Muslims Reacted • Denied it was contagious • Scholar Lisan al- Din Ibn al- Khatib (d. 1374) argued the Black Death was contagious, and was later charged with heresy • Believed that since the plague was sent by God they should not and could not treat it, so they simply endured it
Mortality Rate • About 1/3 of Europe's population died (or 75-200 million dead) • Precise death toll cannot be determined • Some towns lost up to 50% of population • Those who lived in rural areas were not as affected as those in more densely populated areas.
Sources • Bennett, Judith M. Medieval Europe: A Short History. 11th ed.Print. • Wiesner, Merry. Documents On The Black Death. PDF. • Stearns, Justin. New Directions in the Study of Religious Responses to the Black Death. PDF. • Horrox, Rosemary. The Black Death. Web. http://www.medievalsources.co.uk/finish%20pdfs/bdfins.pdf#page=173