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The Black Death

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The Black Death In 1348 the Black Death struck England and other parts of Europe. It had been brought from Asia by ships that had rats on them. These rats carried fleas which, in turn, carried the plague. During this time it is estimated that over 40% of England population died as a result of the Black Death. This left many towns and villages deserted. The Black Death consisted of 2 different types of plague- the bubonic plague (spread by fleas) and the pneumonic plague (spread by coughing germs onto each other). The Black Death then reoccurred in 1361,1369,1374 and finally 1390. Unfortunately the people in 1348 were unaware of germs and fleas so began to create their own causes and cures for the Black Death ranging from blaming God and the Devil to finding common sense reasons. Some people believed that God was trying to punish people for their sins or punish children for dishonoring their mother and father. In a letter from the Prior of the abbey of Christchurch, Canterbury, to the Bishop of London written on the 28th of September 1348 it says 'And thus, indeed, the realm of England, because of the growing pride and corruption of its subjects, and their numberless sins ... ...read more.


He then goes on to advise to light fires in rooms if the weather is cold and if there is wind and fog a person should inhale perfumes every morning before leaving home. But if there was hot weather he says that a person should eat cold things and drink more than you eat. Hot things such as pepper, garlic, onions and other foods that cause extra heat weren't to be eaten. The use of fennel, spinach and cucumber was good when the epidemic occurred in the hot months as well. Some people believed that astrology was to blame. One of the most famous doctors in the 1300s,Guy de Chauliac, wrote about the effect he thought that astrology had, 'The general cause was the close position of the three great planets, Saturn, Jupiter and Mars. This had taken place in 1345 on 24 of March in the 14th degree of Aquarius. Such a coming together of planets is always a sign of wonderful, terrible or violent things to come.' In this passage Guy de Chauliac is saying that the unusual formation of major planets were a warning for the happening of big events whether good or bad. ...read more.


The German people made up one example of these around 1348. A German friar wrote 'Some say that it was brought about by the corruption of the air; others that the Jews planned to wipe out all the Christians with poison and had poisoned wells and springs everywhere. And many Jews confessed as much under torture ... men say that bags full of poison were found in many wells and springs.' Even though the friar wrote that the Jews confessed under torture it is not wise to believe just this, as under torture many people would confess something that they never did just so that they were left alone. To stop this poisoning, Germans burnt the Jews. We know this because of a woodcutting that shows exactly this. All of these explanations were mostly incorrect yet people still believed them and even did drastic things that didn't work to cure and prevent the Black Death. This could have been because some people were afraid of accepting the truth that they couldn't do anything to stop or cure the terrible disease. This means that in some ways the belief in a cure and cause was the only way they could have hope in a chance of not dying. ...read more.

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