The Black Death – A Tragedy To Be Remembered

The Black Death was a tragic historical event that killed a third of Europe’s population. It was the second plague pandemic out of three main plagues. The first was the Plague of Justinian which took place in 541 AD. The third plague was called the Third Pandemic which happened in 1855. The Black death got its name from the dark swellings all over the victim’s body while they were infected. The Black Death was one of the most devastating plagues in human history killing an estimated 20-25 million people. The Black Death is also known as the “Bubonic Plague”, or The Black Plague.

The Black Plague was first found in Messia, Europe in the fall of 1347 arriving on a fleet of trading ships coming from the Black Sea. The ships were carrying rats with fleas that had an organsim now known as Yersina Pestis. When the ships docked, the rats scurried off the ship into the towns infecting the people around them. The disease spread like a wildfire killing hundreds in days, and within three years, the plague had killed a third of Europe’s population. It could be transmitted through coughs and sneezes of infected individuals, but it usually was transmitted through insect bites, primarily the bite of fleas carrying the disease. There was no known cure at the time, so if you caught the disease, you had little hope. The bodies numbered so many at the time that they sent carts through the city to gather the bodies. The carts would take the bodies to mass graves where they buried the bodies all together. Some people even had to bury their own families. The Black Death was an outbreak of a Bubonic plague. Bubonic means it is a disease that causes swellings and bubos. During the plague, many people thought it was the end of the world, so they fled their towns spreading the Black Death even further. By 1348, the disease was carried into Paris and London, killing many more. The disease would normally take 3-5 days to kill the infected. The doctors during this time were called “plague doctors” and they were most commonly known for their beaked masks to try to not get infected. Many thought that the plague was a punishment from God because of their greed, blasphemy, heresy, and worldliness. By the early 1350s, the Black Death had died down and while there have been occasional outbreaks since, it was little in comparison to what was experienced in the early 1340s.

The Black Death was a terrible event and it scares me to think about something like that happening in our time. Now, it’s no doubt that there have been many upgrades in medical technology since then, but the thought of possible biowarfare with another technologically advanced country is certainly concerning. I can’t imagine losing my loved ones to such a tragic disease or having to bury my own family members like what the people in Europe during this time had to experience. The Black Death was truly a tragedy to be remembered.