Civilization during the Black Death

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In 1347 AD Europe the second pandemic of bubonic plague appeared. The second pandemic was known as The Black Death because of the impact it left throughout Europe. The Black Death spread throughout Europe killing an estimated twenty-five million people, among the twenty-five million who caught the bubonic plague a generous amount was affected in France. When Europeans were exposed to the bacteria Yersinia pestis more likely than not they became infected. The bacteria are transmitted through three main ways. The disease originated in China in 1334 and was spread along the great trade routes to Constantinople transmitted by fleas and rats. Europe before the black death lacked severely in sanitation leading to a serious bacterial infection.

During this time in Europe, the black plague had an enormous effect on the development of modern civilization. The black plague caused major destruction in countries such as Asia, Africa, and Europe. These countries were not educated about this disease outbreak and how to treat it leading to a massive panic and the demise of many. An estimated 60% of the European population was killed off and most likely died from the black plague, Entire towns were wiped out. Some contemporary historians report that on occasion, there were not enough survivors remaining to bury the dead (Benedictow 2). This outbreak did cause for positive influences in the European culture leading to more jobs being available, rates in of development, and economic factors. A major positive factor is from the outbreak humans evolved gene variation helping to build a stronger immune system to help fight off bacterias, descendants of Europeans who survived the plague had their genes altered to make them more resistant to disease. It may explain why Europeans respond differently from other people to certain illnesses and autoimmune disorders ( Jimenez 1). If there was to be another outburst of the bubonic plague Europeans would have a stronger immune system to fight off the bacteria.

Another positive effect from the bubonic plague would be the renovation of hospitals across Europe. Before the bubonic plague hospitals were a place to put sick people in isolation in hopes that others would not get infected. Hospitals during medieval times did not have doctors or nurses but rather nuns and monks to pray on the sick. At this time hospitals were pretty much extra housing space for those that needed somewhere to go temporarily. During the black death, hospitals began their transformation into an actual hospital by caring for those with the disease. The failure of traditional medicine made Europeans realize their traditional medical practice needed to change, Medicine ceased to be theoretical and text-bound and became more observational and practical. Anatomy and surgery became parts of the medical program in universities (Jimenez 3). With the expansion of the medical practice more, cures were being discovered for illnesses across Europe. During this time the people began to question their faith in the Catholic church due to the fact that the monks were dying along with the common people. People began to question why the monks were dying off to then decide to think for themselves. As people began to turn away from God many then turned to reason and education to try to make sense of what was happening, No longer was the ideal a life of penance but rather a life dedicated to recovering the lost human spirit and wisdom. Reason and logic became more important than faith. Individuals were encouraged to realize their potential through a liberal arts education. The possibilities of human creativity seemed endless and exciting ( Jimenez 4). Becoming more educated on the topic helped people to understand that God did not control who was dying off from the Black Plague. With all the death happening people began to doubt the existence of God, thus leading to the Enlightenment.

After the bubonic plague, many decided to turn away from the church and religious factors turning to expansion education. The majority of the clergy abandoned the religious duties, for most of them lost their religious beliefs during this team of grief. The loss of family members, friends, and loved ones left the survivors at a complete loss. The church struggled because people were confused how something this horrible could happen if God was looking after them. For those that still believe tend to go against the church for they believe God had abandoned them. Many leaders of the church decided to abandon their positions in order to avoid a possible outbreak against the church and other problems at the time. As many head authorities began to leave the church went into a panic trying to find replacements quickly in order to replace the ones leaving. The monasteries and the clergy suffered the greatest loss (Ziegler 215). The church knew the common people felt as if the church had let them down. The church continued to lose follower lowering the hope of the people, the church lost most of its respect at this time. The plague was the prime factor in people's turning to new influences in a search for meaning and positive values (Dahmus 351).

On the other hand, the bubonic plague had a lot of negative factors, most recognized being the tremendous death count. The black death tore families apart by causing a division on what to do when a member got sick. Children abandoned the father, husband abandoned the wife, wife the husband, one brother the other, one sister the other. Some fled to villas, others to villages in order to get a change in the air. Where there had been no [plague], where they carried it; if it was already there, they caused it to increase (Zahler 45). Many often left the ones they loved behind to look out for their own health. When leaving a lot of the time the member who left might have thought they were getting away but had already been infected. So when traveling to a new town they carried the disease with them and ended up spreading it to a town that could have been clean from it. When a member of the family got sick others would stay and try to help them get better not knowing by them staying around would kill himself. The bubonic plague spread so quickly especially because of the lack of a sanitation system during this time. There were no toilets or bathrooms such as showers and sinks so everyone cleaned in the common area and things such a feces were thrown in the road or out the back of the house. This caused germs to spread very quickly and because of the tight living space if someone in the house got sick the entire house was most likely dead in months. People began to abandon their jobs to take care of there sick family members leaving jobs untended. When farmers started getting sick crops were intended to and died off. This led to a lack of food for families, and then made them worry about starvation. The maintenance of the land rapidly declined to leave the economy in a severe condition. In addition to the land, the mortality rates of the animals and the people became more severe. Villages were laid closely together, so people relied on the same animals for resources ( Ziegler 167). This was an overall nightmare and is why millions died. The Black Death overall had positive and negative influences on the population and growth of knowledge of Europeans at the time. By 1350 many realized that the plague was coming to an end and knew things were about to change. Since millions died a lot of educated people died trying to help others this ended up causing for the survivors they would have to go get educated. At this point, Europe had to rebuild itself completely and changed many things along the way such as hospitals, beliefs, and education. The black death help expand the education throughout Europe to those that survived. Sanitary systems were upgraded and personal hygiene was placed into effect. This helped to prevent germs to be spread less quickly. The renovations of hospitals also helped those who ended becoming sick be isolated but now also treated. The expansion of medicine expanded to find new cures for diseases instead of just praying in a situation. The Black Death in a way helped Europe gain a stronger economy and overall better country with the renovations. If the Black Death did not hit Europe there might have never been a disease strong enough to knock a country down so much to turn away from the church and find a new solution to their problems.

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Civilization during the Black Death. (2019, Jul 01). Retrieved June 20, 2024 , from

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