Black Death

An overview of the devastating outbreak of bubonic plague that struck Europe and the Mediterranean area from 1347 through 1351 AD.

This paper examines how the 14th century plague in Europe is one of the most pivotal events in human history, as it not only took a frighteningly large number of lives in a very short time, but it also had a lasting impact on Western society. It discusses the course of the event across Europe and the Mediterranean, how the disease was spread, its symptoms and manifestations in the victims, the beliefs of the people about the disease at the time, and how they tried to prevent it from spreading. Finally, the social, economic, political, and cultural effects of the Black Death on Western society are examined.

Origins and Course of Black Death across Europe
How Was the Disease Spread?
Symptoms and Manifestations
Beliefs about Causes of Plague
Social, Economic, Political and Cultural Effects
“In the absence of scientific explanation of the causes behind the disease in the 14th century, the people understandably developed various superstitious beliefs about its causes and tried various unsuccessful treatments and ways of preventing its spread. Religion and the Church were a dominant force during the medieval ages and the theologians preached that the onset of the dreadful disease was God’s punishment for a sinful humanity. The doctors of the time theorized that plague was brought on by a lack of balance in the body’s humors or fluids. They believed that such an “imbalance” could be caused by emotional, dietary, or external factors like noxious odors. The plague was also associated with the influence of planets and stars.”