Background of the Plague “Mini” Ice Age lowered global temperatures around 1300, esp. in Europe Shorter growing seasons, lower agr. production Consequence was starvation & poverty, along with susceptibility to disease.
Origins of the Plague Starts in Yunnan region of SW China in the early 1300s – known as the Plague Bacillus Infected rodents, probably had been around in China for centuries In the 1330s, Mongol military campaigns began spreading the plague from Yunnan to more populated areas in the interior of China Some areas of China saw 2/3 population loss
Spread of the Plague -1340s: Mongols & merchants begin to spread it west (trading cities, oasis towns hit hard) -Italian merchants acquired it at Black Sea ports, brought to Europe in 1348
The Disease Cycle Flea drinks rat blood that carries the bacteria. Flea’s gut clogged with bacteria. Bacteria multiply in flea’s gut. Flea bites human and regurgitates blood into human wound. Human is infected!
The Symptoms Inflamed lymph nodes in the neck, armpit, and groin areas (internal hemorrhages turned areas a purple/black color) Killed 60-70% of infected victims Killed around 25 million in Europe, 4 million in SW Asia, and 35 million in China
The Symptoms Bulbous Septicemic Form: almost 100% mortality rate.
Effects of the Plague Economic Effects: City populations fall Trade decreases
Religious Effects of the Plague The Christian Church lost a lot of prestige –I–Its prayers and penances failed to stop the onslaught of the plague –M–Many clergy deserted the Church or charged high fees to perform services for the dying (ex: Last Rights)
Social/Cultural Effects of the Plague Art and literature reflected pessimistic view of life & awareness of death Many survivors became obsessed with “self-indulgences” “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow you may die”