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The Black Plague

The Black Plague

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The Black Plague

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  1. The Black Plague Matthew Abney 6th May 2nd, 2014

  2. Preconditions and Causes of the Plague • In the 14th Century, nine-tenths of the population worked the land • As the supply of food grew, so did the population • Europe’s population doubled between 1000-1300 AD • This rise in population quickly outstripped the food supply • The average European faced extreme hunger during his 35 year life span • Between 1315 and 1317, crop failures produced the greatest famine of the middle ages • All these conditions made Europe highly vulnerable to a virulent bubonic plague which struck with full force in 1348

  3. The Black Death • The plague is named the black death by contemporaries for the way it discolors the body • The plague followed the trade routes from Asia into Europe and was transmitted via rats that came over on the boats • The plague entered Europe through the ports of Venice, Genoa, and Pisa in 1348 • From these three major trade routes, the plague spread up through Spain and into southern France • Areas that lay outside the major trade routes, like Bohemia, were virtually unaffected

  4. Popular Remedies • The plague reached the lungs of the victim during the course of the disease • From the lungs, the victim’s wheezing and coughing spread the disease from person to person • Even the simplest of preventative measures were not taken, because the physicians were unaware of these processes • The plague inspired an obsession with death and dying

  5. Reactions to the plague • Some blamed poisonous fumes released by earthquakes • Many wore aromatic amulets as a remedy • Sexual promiscuity ran high in the stricken areas • The smartest chose flight and seclusion as the best medicine • One extreme reaction was processions of flagellants, religious fanatics who beat themselves in ritual penance, believing such an act would bring divine intervention • The bloody bodies of the flagellants may have spread the disease, but the church outlawed them because they felt threatened

  6. Reactions to the plague • In some places, Jews were blamed for the plague • Centuries of Christian propaganda towards anti-Semitism caused this hatred for the Jews • Pogroms occurred in many cities, sometimes incited by the flagellants

  7. The plague’s effects • Whole villages vanished in the wake of the plague • The plague caused a shrunken labor supply and it caused the value of the estates of the nobility to decline • Skilled artisans soared after the plague • The noble landholders suffered the greatest decline in power • Rents declined everywhere after the plague • To recoup for their losses, wealthy landowners enforced new repressive legislature against the peasants • Taille: direct tax on the peasants

  8. Cities rebound from the plague • After the plague, a new demand for expensive goods arose • The political power of guilds and artisans slightly grew after the plague • The church lost land from the plague, but they gained support and demand for more religious services