The Black Death in the 14th century was ultimately responsible for the gruesome death of more than 25 million people, a figure which represented at least 30 percent of Europe’s total population. Whole villages and towns simply ceased to exist as the plague raged across Europe at mid-century. To make matters worse, Europe suffered a series of crop failures and famines which, while less deadly than the plague, persisted for several years. There were three such famines which occurred just before and after the plague. These famines were usually result of poor climatic conditions. Regardless of the cause, times were indeed difficult for 14th century men and women.
Perhaps Europe was over-populated in at the start of the 14th century — perhaps there were simply too many mouths to feed given the status of medieval agricultural techniques. And even in years of good harvest, most people had to survive on the slim margin of existence. The 14th century was not an age of plenty. Fleas are blood sucking parasites. They have the potential of spreading dangerous diseases to humans and other animals. It is possible the first flea was native to Africa and traveled by boat on the back of a rat to different destinations around the world. Even though there are many different types of fleas, they all have similar body parts; eyes and legs help them survive the dangers of their life. A flea undergoes four different life cycles to become an adult. The Black Death, also known as the Bubonic Plague, is one of the deadly diseases that the flea can spread to man and animals. The bubonic plague was the most commonly seen form of the Black Death. The mortality rate was 30-75%. The symptoms were enlarged and inflamed lymph nodes (around arm pits, neck and groin). The term ‘bubonic’ refers to the characteristic bubo or enlarged lymphatic gland. Victims were subject to headaches, nausea, aching joints, fever of 101-105 degrees, vomiting, and a general feeling of illness. Symptoms took from 1-7 days to appear.
The black death got its name from the deep purple, almost black discoloration.” Victims usually died the same day symptoms appeared. In some cities, as many as 800 people died every day. How it was Transmitted
What were the efforts to stop the plague?
Although the government had medical workers try to prevent the plague, the plague persisted. Most medical workers quit and journeyed away because they feared getting the plague themselves.
Many believed that the disease was transmitted upon the air, probably because the smell from the dead and dying was so awful. So, the living turned to scents to ward off the deadly vapors. People burned all manner of incense: juniper, laurel, pine, beech, lemon leaves, rosemary, camphor and sulfur. Others had handkerchiefs dipped in aromatic oils, to cover their faces when going out. Another remedy was the cure of sound. Towns rang church bells to drive the plague away, for the ringing of town bells was done in crises of all kinds. Other towns fired cannons, which was new and made a comfortingly loud ding. There were no ends to talismans, charms, and spells that could be purchased from the local wise woman.
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