Bubonic plague essay question

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Sign up to our newsletter to receive a promo code. Receive discount. Check your email, discount code is already there. Academic Level. Estimated Date:. The epidemic killed 30 to 50 percent of the entire population of Europe. The pandemic moved fast: It often killed a host within days of their first developing the high fever, the telltale rash, and the repellent buboes or swellings in the armpits and groin, which turned black and burst, expelling pus and bacteria.

The disease spread through families, houses, villages, towns, and cities with terrifying speed and staggering mortality. This tragedy launched a socioeconomic and evolutionary transformation in Europe that changed the course of history.

Could the Plague Rise Again?

So many were struck down and so rapidly, that it was long thought that the Black Death killed indiscriminately. Certainly the disease took men, women, and children, rich and poor.

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But was it a selective form of death? Anthropologist Sharon DeWitte, who is currently at University of South Carolina, felt the answer could be obtained by studying skeletal remains of plague victims and comparing them to other medieval skeletons buried in normal, nonplague cemeteries, and she tackled that question for her dissertation work at Pennsylvania State University.

Because of its severity and the existence of documentary as well as biological evidence, the Black Plague looked like a perfect case to investigate the influence of pandemic disease on human populations.

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HIST 258: Plagues, Diseases, and Epidemics in History (HC): Background

When the plague hit in the mids, no one knew what caused this dreadful pestilence. Others blamed Jews, foreigners, travelers, and lepers, who were shunned and turned away where once they had been welcomed or at least accepted. Some towns barricaded themselves in, afraid to let anyone in who was not already there and equally afraid to let anyone out. Mothers abandoned husbands and children—and vice versa—for fear of catching the contagion. Few other than those in religious orders dared to nurse the sick.


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Sometimes houses were burned to the ground with the inhabitants inside if they were known to be ill. Ordinary parish burial grounds were insufficient to hold the massive numbers of dead, and new plague cemeteries were opened. The social and economic havoc created by the plague was almost beyond imagining, yet it is now being paralleled in many ways by the impact of the Ebola virus epidemic.

Whole villages die within a few weeks, and fear spreads even faster than the infectious agent. With hindsight, the pandemic can be traced to the Mongol Empire, which in addition to conquering with its vast army enormous areas of Asia, opened and ensured the safety of the Silk Road for trade. This Pax Mongolica facilitated relatively rapid, long-distance transport, both of people and diseases, as airplanes and railroads do today with sufferers of the Ebola virus. Where travel is highly restricted and populations are small, deadly diseases tend to burn themselves out fairly quickly.


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But where the disease can be spread easily to new areas, with a new supply of victims, efforts to contain such pandemics are far more difficult. The skeletons represent death in its inevitability and creativity of means. In medieval times, where the Mongol army went, so went the plague; where the sailing ships carried trade and traders, the pestilence arrived in new regions. Because the army remained in one place for so long, the Black Death had time to spread from man to man or from rat-carried fleas to humans.

Black Death Essay | Bartleby

In the end, the army deliberately hurled the rotting corpses of the dead over the city walls, infecting those inside, poisoning wells, and causing a sickening stench. This strategy has been cited as the first biological warfare.

Those that escaped Kaffa fled by ship to Sicily, Genoa, and Venice in and , carrying the disease with them. Plague ships soon reached busy ports in France, Spain, and Norway, off-loading their deadly cargo at each stop. The plague arrived in England on or about May 8, , at Melcombe Regis, traveling on a ship that had left Bordeaux a few weeks earlier.

The epidemic is mentioned in historical documents shortly before June 24 of that year. The disease reached London in August and reached epidemic proportions by the end of September. From there, it spread into the countryside. By , the pandemic had died down, but whole villages and their fields were empty of inhabitants; cottages and houses sat vacant; many crops had rotted in the field for lack of labor to harvest them; stock animals died, unfed and unwatered, for lack of human care. There were simply not enough serfs and peasants left in England to do the work. All the conditions were right for an epidemic.

Doctors were powerless against infectious disease. People were weakened by war and harvest failures. Germs, the fleas which carried them, and the rats which carried the fleas, flourished in the dirty towns.