In 1348 the historic Bubonic Plague wiped out about 30-50% of Europe’s population. This plague is also known as Black Death. Although it is associated with taking the most lives in the European nations, this 14th century Plague DID not originate in England much like many people assume.
But if it did not start there, where did black death start, what caused it, how was it transmitted, how long did it last, and most of all- how did it impact religion, the economy, and society overall?
Where Did Black Death Start: The History of the Bubonic Plague
Historians who have studied black death believe that the Black death originated in Central Asia or China. From there it is also thought to have traveled through the Silk Road to Crimea in 1346.
The transmission of the plague which started in these countries was also started by black rats but also by oriental rat fleas that also fed on the black rats’ that flourished back then on ships.
From Crimea it then entered the European & Mediterranean coasts- and caused 1/3 of the population of Europe to die, 1/2 of the Parisian population to perish, 40% of Egypt’s population to be wiped out, and also sent 60% of the Bremen/Hamburg population to their miserable deaths.
Black Death: How Was it Transmitted
The Bubonic Plague or ” Black Death started out by the spread of bacteria transmitted between rat fleas and black rats (fleabites.)
The fleas that thrived on rat blood are entirely different than fleas that bite humans that come from cats, dogs, and other domesticated pets. The Black Rat of European origin was the ideal host for the bubonic bacteria because it could thrive within the rat for unlimited amounts of time.
Occasionally fleas that encompassed the black rats of Europe would bite humans. This made humans capable of transmitting the disease in a human-to-human manner.
The plague then was able to multiply and evolve slowly into a different strain which could also be spread by airborne factors (coughing, sneezing, swap of body fluids, and human contact.) This strain was known as the pneumatic strain- it is the strain of the Bubonic plague which proved so fatal to millions of people and the one that was spread faster, and more easily.
Black Death: Symptoms of the Bubonic Plague
When a person would come in contact with someone or get bitten by a black rat flea, they would rapidly have the onset of certain symptoms including:
- Sneezing, Coughing, Sore Throat
- Black Blue sores in nodes (arms, groin, neck)
- Swollen Lymph Glands
- Black egg-like swellings
- Black Face (Hence Black Death)
- Death within 5 Days of contracting
- Bleeding/Purple Blemishes with Pus
The bacteria would attack blood cells,and cause massive infections all throughout the body which the immune system could not fight off or keep up with. This is why the Black Death wiped out such a massive population of people in the various countries around Europe. There was no cure, no vaccines, and no modern contagious disease control that could stop, educate, and treat the people faster than they were dying and spreading the disease further.
Black Death: How Long Did it Last?
Black Death ran its course about 6 years and lasted until about 1351! Although the Black Death was not terrorizing the European population as harshly back then- it did lead to other epidemics and less evasive outbreaks which impacted countries all over the globe and happened up to the early 18th century off an on. There was even an incidence of the Bubonic Plague which occurred in 1922 in Pensacola, Florida.
The Bubonic Plague, Black Death not only impacted the population of Europe- it also impacted them immensely where religiously, socially, and economically it took the country nearly 1 decade and 1/2 to recover completely.
Some of these changes, and effects include:
- Governmental changes
- Scarcity of Laborers (farmers)
- Trade dropped 93%
- Wages arose/Middle class prospered
- Jews were victimized
- Some religions turned their backs on God and beliefs around (blaming the plague on a punishment from God)
- Shortage of priests, More atheists and agnostics were birthed
- Moral in the country greatly suffered until the late 16th century
- Inspired them to learn more about medicine (health initiatives were birthed to create vaccines, cures, and treatments for severe disease and illnesses.
Where Did Black Death Start: Bottom Line
To this day the Bubonic, Pneumonic, or Black Death Plague responsible for the most tragic deaths and European population banishment of the 14 century still makes an appearance here and there. It was even said that just this last month a teenager in Oregon contracted the disease after coming home from a hiking trip in the mountains. With more modern medicine, when treated with an extensive course of antibiotics Black Death only has a 16% mortality rate.