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  2. THE CALM BEFORE THE STORM • A period of prosperity 1000-1250 • Population growth: • 25 million (10th c.) to 75 million (mid 13th c.) • Favourable weather • Agricultural and technological innovations • New crops • 3 field planting • A new harness for horses • Food surplus • Political stability • The problem by 1300 = overpopulation

  3. CRISES PRIOR TO THE BLACK DEATH • Environmental shift 1200- 1350 • The Little Ice Age (temperature drop of 1.5 degrees) • Frozen waterways (no longer able to fish Herring) • Crop failure (rotting in the fields because too much precipitation) • Loss of marginal lands due to flooding • Famines 1315-1317 continent wide, due to the lack of surplus food to feed the great population (especially in the cities) • Financial and Economic changes • Closing trade routes to the East • Banking crisis in Italy • European Conflicts • Italians and Germans • Peasants rebellions • Hundred Years War

  4. Results of crises • Europeans in 14th c. were: • Starving • Without financial means to support themselves • Constantly facing threats of armed conflicts • They are now VERY VULNERABLE!!!

  5. THE BLACK DEATH 1347-1351 • Killed ¼ to 1/3 of Europe’s population • Entry into Europe through the East and the Mediterranean • Traveled from Gobi Desert to Mongolia into China • As the Mongols moved the infected rats traveled with them. • 1330-1346: Moved West through trade and sea routes from China • Sept 1345: Crimea • 1347: Constantinople • Fall 1347: Alexandria, Egypt (750 dead/day) • 1347- 1348: Engulfed Islamic world (1/3 of population died, 40-50% in cities) • Oct 1347: reached Sicily • Dec 1347: Raged through Italy and Southern Europe • 1347-1348: Reached Northern Italian cities • 1348: France • Fall 1348: England • 1350: Most of Northern Europe and Russia


  7. 1- Bubonic Plague • most common • Six day incubation period • Transmitted by fleas: Y-pestis bacilli found in their digestive tract • Symptoms: • Blackish pustule at bite • enlargements of the lymph nodes in armpits, groin or neck • Purplish blotches called buboes • 60 % of victims died

  8. PNEUMONIC • Less common (only occurs when there is a sharp temperature drop and infection moves into the lungs) • Transmitted from person to person by coughing up blood containing Y-pestis bacilli • 2 to 3 day incubation period • 95%-100% fatal

  9. SEPTICAEMIC • Least common • Also transmitted by fleas • Y-pestis bacilli enter the bloodstream of victims • Rash forms in 1 day and death rapidly follows (before buboes can form) • Always fatal

  10. EPIDEMIC AND PANDEMIC • Epidemic disease: affecting many individuals at the same time, and spreading from person to person in a locality where the disease is not permanently prevalent • Pandemic disease: a linked series that strike in cyclic fashion. Plague returned throughout 14th century (every 6 to 20 years).

  11. LABOURERS VS LANDOWNERS • Pre-plague: Europe’s population had dramatically increased in the 13th c. and was becoming overpopulated by 1300. • Would it have been easy to get a good job? • Where do you think the majority of people would have worked in the 14th c.? • With a great number of people all going after a smaller number of agricultural jobs, what kind of control do you think the bosses would have over the workers? • Post-plague: Huge decline in the population. • What would this population decline do to the labour market? • Now that there are fewer people than jobs available what can landowners do to attract workers? • What will workers demand from landowners? • How do you think landowners will feel about paying the workers more? • What do you think the landowners could do to lower wages? • Government and land extensive • What responses will the workers have to reduce their wages back to pre-Black Death wages?

  12. LUXURIES • Salt and spices were considered more valuable then gold in the 14th c. • Why would people following the Black Death have been willing to spend their money on such luxuries? • Do they have more money? • How would the mental effects of the Black Death effect their wants and desire? • How would fear of Death effect their purchases?

  13. SOCIOECONOMIC EFFECTS OF THE BLACK DEATH • Fewer workers = more jobs = higher pay • More buying of luxuries: • Less people in families to share inheritance • People scared could die at any time

  14. MEDIEVAL BELIEFS • In order to understand why some medieval people thought that putting their head in a latrine was a good idea, you need to understand the superstitious beliefs of those living in the 14th c. • This period was a time when “life was nasty, brutish and short”

  15. MEDIEVAL BELIEFS • The Earth is the centre of the universe. • Witches existed. • Alchemy was possible (a science that tried to change baser metals into gold and to make a compound that would cure all diseases and extend life indefinitely – Elixir of Life) • Astrology was a guiding force of the universe.

  16. THEORIES OF WHAT CAUSED THE PLAGUE • Unusual planetary conjunction that released poisonous vapours • According to the university of Paris • Intellectual theory • Idea that air and water infected • God is angry because not religious or holy enough/ too sinful. • Minorities accused of poisoning the wells • Lepers (suffer from skin diease) • Suspected witches • Jews • Most common scapegoats • God angry because letting them live in Christian areas • Spurred on by Flagellants (group of fanatics that went from town to town flogging themselves) who encouraged inhabitants to exterminate Jews as a way of ending God’s anger • Massacred, slaughtered, burned • 300 communities in Holy Roman Empire annihilated • By 1351: 350 separate massacred

  17. EFFECTS ON MEDIEVAL PSYCHE • Doubting the Church • Shook confidence in the Church • Couldn’t get God’s assistance for the people • Even clergy dying of Plague • Obsession with Death • Physical death became closer, presence of sudden painful death • Pessimism/preoccupation with death • Leads to fascination with death because daily sight in the streets • Elaborate funerals and single graves • Mood of decay and death in art