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Avoid it Like the Plague: The Black Death

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Presentation on theme: "Avoid it Like the Plague: The Black Death"— Presentation transcript:

1 Avoid it Like the Plague: The Black Death

2 What was the Black Death?
The Black Death is also known as the plague. In the fourteenth century it spread rapidly across Europe and caused a massive reduction in population. People who caught the disease had swellings on their bodies, sometimes as big as eggs. Then the black spots would appear, which gave the disease its name. A medieval description of the plague: “…emergence of certain tumours in the groin or armpits, some of which grew as large as a common apple. Black spots appeared on the arm or the thigh…”

3 What was the plague and how did it spread?
There were two forms of the plague that spread through Europe in the Middle Ages: Bubonic plague was caused by a bacteria that infected rats. Fleas bit the rats and become infected. They then hopped onto humans, bit them and passed on the disease. Pneumonic plague was also caused by the same bacteria but was more deadly. It was caught by breathing in the germs when an infected person coughed or sneezed.

4 Symptoms of the plague

5 Plague doctor

6 What did people believe caused the plague?
Sent by God to punish them for their sins. The movements of the planets. Were any of these ideas correct? Bad smells or bad air. Over-eating Jewish people poisoned the drinking water. Being close to infected people.

7 How did the plague get to Europe?
The Black Death travelled along trading routes. It is believed that Italian traders picked up infected rats/fleas and the disease in Asia and brought it by ship to Caffa (Europe). From these infected sailors and rats/fleas, it spread throughout Europe along trade routes.

8 The spread of the plague

9 Spread of the Plague in the City
Toilets over the River Thames. People fishing in the polluted river. Butchers working in the street. Food sold in markets on the filthy streets. Animals kept in pens on the streets. Toilet waste thrown out of windows. Open sewers flowing down the street to the Thames. A man urinating against the wall of a house. Crowded houses in the city. Animals pulling carts.

10 Medieval Beliefs about the Cause of the Plague
“In the month of August 1348, after the evening sun began to set, a very bright star appeared above Paris … The star seemed much nearer the earth than stars usually are … it seemed to me … that the star stayed in one place … At last darkness fell. Then to the amazement of all of us, the star split up into many different rays. It shed these rays towards the east, over Paris. The star then completely disappeared.” Description of the plague reaching France by Jean de Venette, friar. What does this source tell you about how people thought the plague began? Why did many people blame God?

11 How did people try to prevent/treat the plague?
It was thought that by bleeding people, they could get rid of the bad blood which caused the plague. Cutting a live pigeon in half and rubbing it on your boil Shaving a live chicken’s bottom and attaching it to the boils Eating crushed emeralds

12 How did people try to prevent/treat the plague?
“[Toads] should be placed on the plague boil. The toad will swell and draw out the poison of the plague to its own body…” Guy de Chauliac Eating poisonous arsenic powder Throwing nicely-scented herbs on to the fire to purify the air Slicing open your boil and burning it with a red-hot poker

13 How did people try to prevent/treat the plague?
Flagellants were people who believed that if they whipped and hurt themselves, God would take pity on them. People went on religious pilgrimages to holy sites to please God


15 The Outcome of the Black Death
Death in Europe from the Plague in the s Around 1/3 to 1/2 of population Around 25 million people

16 How did the Plague change Medieval society?
People remained religious but questioned the church and its leaders – church became less powerful In many areas, villages were deserted, so there was more good land for people to grow crops on.

17 How did the Plague change Medieval society?
“At Woodeaton there were only two farmers left and they would have gone away if the abbot had not made a new agreement with them to reduce their work service…” from the records of Eynsham Abbey, c.1385. “As soon as masters accuse their workers of bad work … they leave quickly and find jobs in new places at higher wages. Masters dare not upset their workers…” from Introduction to a Law, 1376. In many areas, populations were greatly reduced, so serfs could ask for higher wages, demand their freedom, and purchase their own land. Many people moved to the cities Feudalism DIED!

18 How did the Plague change Medieval society?
As there were fewer people, new technology and devices were invented to do the work such as grinding wheat, spinning wool, and copying texts. e.g. Gutenberg printing press. Manufacturing increased dramatically. People began questioning everything as life was not guaranteed; they no longer accepted authority figures or their assigned place in life according to their birth... a rebirth was about to begin!

19 Effects of the Black Death

20 The End

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