History of Europe 1000-1500

Final Paper


The Black Death

The Black Death was a pivotal event in human history.  The plague originated in Asia, and came to Europe via trade ships in the middle of the 14th century.  As it spread through Europe, it left no one unaffected by its horrors.  Everyone who survived knew someone, usually many people, who had not been so lucky.  The Black Death changed the whole face of Europe.  The massive population loss caused by the Black Death acted as a catalyst for vast economic, political, and social change.  

The plague bacteria is thought to have spread from the arid plains of central Asia. Increased commercialization in Europe opened up silk routes through the steppes, and the trading posts acted as good locations for infected fleas to break out of the area.  The disease probably spread from Europe to India, and then on to Italian seaports and the rest of Europe.  

The Black Death first appeared in Europe in Italy in 1347.  It arrived on trading ships that probably came from the Black Sea, past Constantinople and through the Mediterranean.  People soon learned of the horror of the disease, and fled the city, thus spreading the disease to other destinations in Europe.  It reached Europe’s ports first, including Messina, Genoa, Venice, Barcelona, Marseilles, and Valencia.  

Join now!

By June of 1348, almost half of Europe was afflicted with the plague.  By 1349, the plague had reached almost all of western Europe and half of central Europe.  It then spread north to Norway via trade routes.  Next, it hit the eastern European countries hard in 1350.  Finally, it hit Russia in 1351.

Symptoms included high fevers and aching limbs and vomiting of blood. Most characteristic is a swelling of the lymph nodes. These glands can be found in the neck, armpits and groin. The swelling protrudes and is easily visible; its blackish coloring gives the disease its name: ...

This is a preview of the whole essay