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The Black Death. Intro #1 A Divider between the central and late Middle Ages Changes are numerous: –Introduction of gunpowder –Increased importance of.

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Presentation on theme: "The Black Death. Intro #1 A Divider between the central and late Middle Ages Changes are numerous: –Introduction of gunpowder –Increased importance of."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Black Death

2 Intro #1 A Divider between the central and late Middle Ages Changes are numerous: –Introduction of gunpowder –Increased importance of cities –Economic and demographic crisis –Powerful currents in culture and religion

3 Origins of the Plague #1 The Black Death erupted in the Gobi Desert in the Late 1320’s Then it spread outward in every direction. In china, for example, the population dropped from around 125 million to 90 million over the course of the 14 th century.

4 The Plague Approaches Europe #2 The plague moved along the caravan routes toward the West. –1345-Volga River –1346-Caucasus and Crimea –1347-Constantinople Hit Alexandria and by spring of 1348 a thousand people a day were dying there Cairo the count was 7x that. Disease traveled by ship and by land By 1347 the disease hit Sicily.

5 Arrival in the West #2 1347: Cyprus 1348: Marseilles Spring 1348: Paris Sept 1348: England 1348:Germany and rest of the low Countries the same year May 1349: Norway 1350: Eastern Europe Russia: 1351 Disease follows trade routes and concentrates in cities. The progress of the plague follows the geography of the medieval trade routes.

6 About the Disease #3 The Plague is an organism usually carried by rodents. First fleas infest the animals then move freely over to humans when the animal dies. Symptoms: high fever, aching limbs, vomiting of blood, swelling of the lymph nodes; which is visible and turns blackish giving the disease its name. Swelling continues until it bursts; death soon follows. Entire process lasts three to four days.

7 A Description of the Plague #3

8 Medical Measures #4 People thought the disease was in the air. People burned all kinds of incense to prevent catching the disease. The cure of sound by ringing church bells or firing canons were also tried. Talismans, charms and spells could also be purchased for a desperate cure.


10 Learned Opinion #4 As some viewed the plague as the wrath of God many of the educated new “better”. The pope called for a medical faculty in Paris to figure out what caused the Plague. Here is what they came up with: –The conjunction of several planets that occurred in 1345 created hot, moist conditions that caused the earth to exhale poisonous vapors. So to keep safe they came up with some recommendations: –Pretty much don’t eat meat or fish, don’t sleep during the daytime, don’t exercise, don’t cook in rainwater, olive oil with food is deadly and bathing is dangerous. Italians later came up with the idea you could just think of nice things that are comforting and you’d be all good

11 Avoidance #5 The best action to take is quarantine…staying away where no fleas can get you. Wealthy moved to the countryside. Pope Clement VI sat between to large fires to breath pure air.

12 Population Loss #5 Overall population loss estimated about 1/3 (so one out of 3 people were dead in a three year period) But some areas suffered more than others. Between 45% and 75% of Florence died in one year. Venice had 60% die in 18 months. Avignon had 50% die. Many who died were clergy, friars, physicians, barber- surgeons. Although cities were hit hard they recovered quickly. Whereas rural areas population left the farms for the cities. Population levels were not reached until the 1500’s some not even until the 1600’s.

13 Economic Disruption #6 Cities hit hard Financial businesses and debtors died so no one could collect. Construction projects stopped or were abandoned since craftsmen had died. Now offering high wages for specialists. Labor shortages severe so wages rose. Over supply of goods (less people) Prices dropped Standard of living rose Effects countryside living; villages dying out. Peasants demanding fairer treatment.

14 Persecution of the Jews #6 Jews easy targets of blame by poisoning water or practicing witchcraft. Victims of mob violence, massacres especially along the cities of the Rhine River. Strasbourg, 1349 nearly 200 Jews were burned to death by an angry mob. This is through popular anger and not fear; even the church sent out edicts forbidding plunder and slaughter of Jews. Many were expelled from cities or regions so many migrated eastward and did not return.

15 Cultural Effects #7 Many Universities and schools closed or abandoned. Many churches shut down as well Questioning God…Why would He do this?

16 Art #7 Tomb sculptures: used to show lords with armor and swords now some show half decomposed bodies with parts of the skeleton clearly visible. Clothes were rags some showing worms and snails burrowing in the rotting flesh. The Danse Macrabe: The Dance of Death The motif shows skeletons mingling with the living men in daily scenes. So people at their merriest moments but remind us of horror and loss. The paintings were requested by churches, monarchs, and city councils and even displayed in public places.

17 Danse Macabre

18 Political Effects #8 Only one king died but many queens and nobles died. Parliaments adjourned when it hit as well as the 100 years war…it started soon after though Local levels more severely effected; local noble families completely wiped out Courts closed down: wills couldn’t be probated.

19 Historical Timing of the Plague #8 Economy was already approaching limits of expansion. –Arrival of Mongols and Ottomans disrupted the trade routes Certain areas of Europe were heading for depression Climate was changing: cooler and wetter weather: – lower crop yields but population was increasing…famine time. Church was having issues: –Popes in Avignon not in Rome; Heresy in England while the holy land was lost. Hundred Years War added to the plague and famine

20 Recurrence of the Plague #8 The Plagued recurred over and over but was never as bad as the first time. All through the 2 nd half of the 14 th cent. Every generation was visited by the plague. There were local epidemics for another 200 years. Parts of Europe did not recover their pre- plague population until the 17 th century.

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