The Black Death and the Transformation of the West: History of Plague

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The black death started in the 14th and 15th century and was one of the horrific natural disasters ever to come to Europe. David Herlihy took on an investigation about the Black death history in Europe. It seems as if certain diseases did not just start in Europe and it really spread in different type of ways from different animals and humans. In order for him to try to keep a trace on the plague it had to start from somewhere and he had to go all the way to China because of the Chinese epidemic. Plague is a disease that come from the small mammals at the time. Something as small as a rat or mouse can give you a disease you never thought you can get but a certain type of flea can easily get on the rat and now that rat has a disease from the flea and that flea can give the different diseases such as bubonic, septicemic, and pneumonic. Humans can catch these diseases because when the flea gets on a rat and say if the rat dies and it gets cold the flea will go to a human when they cannot find a warm rat is not available to them. The symptoms after getting infected by the disease is very life threatening just from a small little flea, symptoms can vary to many different things such as fever as high as 105 degrees, vomiting, giddiness and painful limbs but according to research that is only the first few symptoms. When you get a flea bite usually where you get bit at is under your armpits and your neck but it all depends on part of your body will most likely be swollen and can be big as an egg.

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The name black death was never used in the middle ages and when some people either here or see the name they would think it was something about race just like I did but reading into the history it was really all about how certain diseases came about in the world and how these diseases are very life threatening and you can catch these diseases in the most accidently and quickest way. A bacteriologist name Louis Pasteur declared ” It is now in the power of man to come parasitic disease to disappear from the world” In the statement I halfway believe what he saying bur apart of me doesn’t just for the simple fact that yes it is most likely that a guy can give a women a disease from sexual contact buy not being careful but I also feel you can get the same diseases from animals just like in China because the plague was mainly infecting mammals. They proved something as small as a flea bite can give you something that is life threatening. The medieval world was still dynamic before and after the plague. Having life changing diseases is a very hard thing to swallow especially when you are at very young age and at that time they had a lot of young people catching what the adults had and dying at an early age because of it. When you catch a disease they had people trying to cure it but wasn’t medically trained to do so or they didn’t know the right thing to do and that still did no good. Around the 14th and 15th century the population would get lower and lower because they did not have the right training or knew what exactly to do for that certain disease.

Around this period in time they had more access to technology they didn’t have before and they were able new tools and new machines, and if they kept producing these machines and other tools they were using they got great rewards for doing so and that’s exactly what they did. If they knew about the different tools and machines they used prior to the plague everything would have been good because the population would grow rapidly for the simple fact that nobody is dying because they can find a cure or at least help them in the situation that they are in at the time referring to their health issues. Everyone knows that people are born every day and people unfortunately die every day as well, but it seems as if more people would be dying more than people are getting born and that changes the population in a big way but it also changes the events that the community can hold for the people who live there at the time. Even though the population was low in the middle ages it did help out a lot of other people because their more jobs for people to work for a good pay and it also way more farms then normal so around this time it had its pros and cons for certain people in the world at the moment. Depopulation was also able to have low rent fees for their house and that always a plus for someone that didn’t have much or didn’t have a good job to support their family if they were married. Some men in the middle ages do not get married until they know they can have financial stability for the family, at times most men would wait a long time to get married and the some would end up not getting married at all.

In the medieval time period Herlihy expressed that it was a religious change in Europe changes that I personally couldn’t understand just because I am a Christian but also I feel like he was trying to say that the names we get from the bible if you are a Christian most names that is in the bible they got most of their names from in the western period in time. I do believe that the Black death maybe was the reason why certain people have a different opinion on the their religions just because it is either how they grew up or they just had different thoughts of their own at the time because of all the events that took place in front of them and they just had a whole other mindset. Reading the story it was very dark and sad to me because when someone had aids or in other type of disease they would treat them as if they were a criminal and I understand they probably didn’t want to be around them because they are carrying something that is contagious people can be more comforting and at least could have treated them how they were treated before they found out that person is ill. They did still gave them food and made sure they was okay for as long as they stayed alive, but in the same breath when they did die nobody told a priest so they can at least have a some what peaceful way if going out the world.

As I kept reading and dint understand why they would get treated as if they were a criminal but I do understand why they would do that because they were afraid to catch what that person had. I realized that most family members did actually would care for that person but they had a hard time doing so because they would have them separated for of course health reason because nobody wants to get ill and have to be neglected as well and that is the main reason why the population was as bad as it was in the medieval time. Before I read the book I always thought that the only way you can get aids was if you were being sexual with someone but reading the story and seeing that kids would be taken out of school and being around someone with aids was very limited.

The plague ended up allowing the Europeans to rebuild their economic system and their demographics. It also ruined a lot of the colleges/universities that peoples went to at the time. Most of those people that went to the colleges that got shut down ended up going to a college that trained them to priest and that goes back to when I referred to the plague changing how people feel about certain religions and their whole mindset changed because of the plague. When the plague broke the deadlock it gave the Europeans to renew everything from what they had before and that’s when everything changed from the culture, environment, population, religion and also the schools that young adults went to. The book was interesting to see not how the black death came along but it was interesting seeing how those people actually living it. Just from people living they had a different reaction to not actually people around them having a disease but more so how it changed everybody’s life because even though you didn’t physically have an illness it still infected everyone because it is changing the way you are living in a good or bad way it changed everything around in the ways that I listed before. What really gave me and eye opener was that they had physicians with no training experience at all and they tried to help the person with the disease and they unfortunately still passed away. I don’t think I can understand their reasoning behind that because if it was a new disease and nobody knows where it really came from at the time and didn’t really know what to do I am not sure why they wasted their time trying to fix something they knew nothing about or had training on.

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The Black Death and the Transformation of the West: History of Plague. (2019, Jul 08). Retrieved December 10, 2022 , from

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