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THE BLACK DEATH. References: A History of the Modern World by Palmer and Colton A History of Western Society by McKay, Hill, and Buckler The Western Perspective.

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Presentation on theme: "THE BLACK DEATH. References: A History of the Modern World by Palmer and Colton A History of Western Society by McKay, Hill, and Buckler The Western Perspective."— Presentation transcript:

1 THE BLACK DEATH

2 References: A History of the Modern World by Palmer and Colton A History of Western Society by McKay, Hill, and Buckler The Western Perspective by Cannistraro and Reich Western Civilization by Spielvogel

3 THE BLACK DEATH from A History of Western Society n Spread –In October 1347, the plague came to Messina on Genoese ships docking at the island of Sicily. –By January 1348, the plague had reached Venice and Genoa. –By mid-1348, Italy, Spain, and France were infected and the plague had reached Germany and England.

4 THE BLACK DEATH from A History of Western Society –By the end of 1349, the plague had swept across most of Ireland, Scotland, the Low Countries, and Denmark. –By the end of 1350, almost all of Europe was infected.

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6 THE BLACK DEATH from A History of Western Society n Pathology and Care –The bacillus that causes the plague is the Pasteurella pestis. –The flea resided in the hair of a rodent, preferably the black rat. –Lived in the bloodstream of an animal or, ideally, in the stomach of a flea.

7 THE BLACK DEATH from A History of Western Society n Black rats –Often traveled by ship. –Could survive on cargoes of grain –Reached the cities of Europe following voyages probably from the Crimea

8 THE BLACK DEATH from A History of Western Society & from Western Civilization n The plague took three forms –Bubonic: the flea was the vector, or transmitter. –Pneumonic: the plague was passed from person to person. –Septicemic: very rare, but very lethal; passed by insects; death usually occurred within one day.

9 THE BLACK DEATH from A History of Western Society City life aided the spread of disease. Possibly for financial reasons, houses’ upper stories were built to project over the lower stories, eliminating light and air. Filthy, narrow, crowded streets Sewage Garbage Dead animals

10 THE BLACK DEATH from A History of Western Society & A History of the Modern World Extreme overcrowding was common. Houses were crowded within the city walls. Housing construction was frequently poor and rats had no trouble entering. Family members normally slept in one room, sometimes in one bed.

11 THE BLACK DEATH from A History of Western Society n Personal hygiene –How often did the average resident use the public bathhouse? –How does poor personal hygiene combine with minor illnesses to weaken resistance to serious disease?

12 THE BLACK DEATH from A History of Western Society –If body lice is a common occurrence, will one notice a particular bite from a particular flea?

13 THE BLACK DEATH from A History of Western Society n Symptoms –a growth the size of a nut or an apple in the armpit, in the groin, or on the neck –This was the boil, or buba, that gave the disease its name. –If the boil was lanced and thoroughly drained, the victim might recover.

14 THE BLACK DEATH from A History of Western Society –Secondary stage: black spots caused by bleeding under the skin. –Finally, the victim began to cough violently and spit blood. –Death followed in two or three days.

15 THE BLACK DEATH from The Western Perspective

16 THE BLACK DEATH from A History of Western Society n Contemporary explanations –Some "vicious property in the air” –The Jews

17 THE BLACK DEATH from Western Civilization n Anti-Semitism –The most common example of anti- Semitism was the accusation that Jews caused the Black Death by poisoning wells –Jews were persecuted in Spain and especially in Germany

18 THE BLACK DEATH from Western Civilization n Anti-Semitism: One example –The plague killed about 16,000 in the city of Strasbourg in the Holy Roman Empire beginning in the summer of –The Jews were blamed for the plague due to a combination of fear and greed.

19 THE BLACK DEATH from Western Civilization n Anti-Semitism: An excerpt from “The Cremation of the Strasbourg Jews” by Jacob von Konigshofen: –“On Saturday... they burnt the Jews on a wooden platform in their cemetery. –“There were about two thousand people of them.

20 THE BLACK DEATH from Western Civilization n Anti-Semitism: An excerpt from “The Cremation of the Strasbourg Jews” by Jacob von Konigshofen: –“Those who wanted to baptise themselves were spared. –“[About 1,000 accepted baptism.] –“Many small children were taken out of the fire and baptized against the will of their fathers and mothers.

21 THE BLACK DEATH from Western Civilization n Anti-Semitism: An excerpt from “The Cremation of the Strasbourg Jews” by Jacob von Konigshofen: –“And everything that was owed to the Jews was canceled, and the Jews had to surrender all pledges and notes that they had taken for debts. –“The council, however, took the cash that the Jews possessed and divided it among the working-men proportionately.

22 THE BLACK DEATH from Western Civilization n Anti-Semitism: An excerpt from “The Cremation of the Strasbourg Jews” by Jacob von Konigshofen: –“The money was indeed the thing that killed the Jews. –“If they had been poor and if the feudal lords had not been in debt to them, they would not have been burnt...”

23 THE BLACK DEATH partly from Western Civilization n Anti-Semitism –Surviving Jews fled to Russia and especially to Poland where they were offered protection by the king. –As a direct result of the Black Death, Eastern Europe became home to large numbers of Jews.

24 THE BLACK DEATH from A History of Western Society n Ibu Abu Madyan –The infectious nature of the disease was recognized by some, but apparently only certain Muslims realized how to respond. –Abu Madyan’s efforts succeeded. –Ibu Abu Madyan shut in his household and allowed no one to enter or leave until the plague had passed.

25 THE BLACK DEATH from A History of Western Society n Rats carrying the fleas were largely confined to the cities. –The countryside was relatively safe. –City dwellers with money fled.

26 THE BLACK DEATH from Western Civilization n “Still others... maintained that no remedy against plagues was better than to leave them miles behind. Men and women without number... caring for nobody but themselves, abandoned the city, their houses and estates, their own flesh and blood even, and their effects, in search of a country place.” »from The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio

27 THE BLACK DEATH from A History of Western Society n Contemporary Europe could neither explain nor cure the disease. n The medical literature of the day indicates that physicians could sometimes ease the pain.

28 THE BLACK DEATH from A History of Western Society & from Western Civilization n Care and treatment –Priests and nuns often stayed with the sick until they too caught the plague. –Hospitals which existed in 14 th and 15 th century European cities “could offer only shelter, compassion, and care for the dying.”

29 THE BLACK DEATH from A History of Western Society n Professional medicine had no theory of infection, but the basic concept was understood – on some level – by those who witnessed the spread of the disease. n European port cities, beginning with Ragusa (modern Dubrovnik), quarantined arriving ships to determine whether they brought the plague.

30 THE BLACK DEATH from Western Civilization n Mortality rates –Italian cities: 50-60% –Northern France: Farming villages: 30% Cities: 30-40% –England: similar to France –Germany: not as bad as England and France –Europe: 25-50% or approximately million people

31 A mass burial in Europe from The Western Perspective

32 Mass burial of Plague Victims from Western Civilization

33 THE BLACK DEATH from A History of Western Society & from Western Civilization n Recurrences – –1369 –Every 5-6 to years for the rest of the fourteenth-century and the fifteenth century –Intermittently –Last outbreak was 1721 in Marseilles

34 THE BLACK DEATH from A History of Western Society n Economic and social consequences. –The decline in population led to a labor shortage Increased demand for labor Higher wages Increase in per capita wealth –Increase in the slave trade

35 THE BLACK DEATH from A History of Western Society & from Western Civilization n Psychological consequences. –Heroism –Cowardice –Pessimism –Debauchery –Asceticism

36 THE BLACK DEATH from Western Civilization –“Others... held that plenty of drinking and enjoyment, singing and free living and the gratification of the appetite in every possible way... was the best preventative of such a malady... Day and night they went from one tavern to another drinking and carousing unrestrainedly.” »from The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio

37 THE BLACK DEATH from Western Civilization n The flagellants –“men who did public penance and scourged themselves with whips of hard knotted leather with little iron spikes. Some make themselves bleed very badly... The object of this penance was to put a stop to the mortality.” »A contemporary chronicler

38 “The Flagellants” from Western Civilization

39 THE BLACK DEATH from A History of Western Society n Death in the literature and art of the fourteenth century –One motif, the Dance of Death, depicted a dancing skeleton leading away a living person.

40 Dance of Death

41 THE BLACK DEATH from A History of Western Society –Survivors experienced a crisis of faith. –All types of leaders and institutions had failed them –This crisis contributed to the decline of the Middle Ages. Religious and Moral Political and Social Medical


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