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The Black Death

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The Black Death had profound effects on Medieval Europe. Although most people did not realize it at the time, the Black Death had not only marked the end of one age but it also denoted the beginning of a new one, the Renaissance (Cantor 14). Between 1339 and 1351a.d, the Black Death, traveled from China to Europe affecting the importance of cities, creating economic and demographic crises, as well as political disruption and realignment. It also brought about a powerful new flow in culture and religion ("The Black Death, 1348,").

The plague was brought to Europe by cargo from China. In this cargo there were rats that had flea's on them that carried this plague, and this little flea's caused one of the most devastating epidemics in the history of the world. In the beginning, the Italian town of Genoa was one of the busiest ports in Europe. Ships sailed from there to trade all over the Mediterranean Sea. In October of 1347, 12 merchant ships sailed from Caffa to Italy (Cantor 21). A strange disease had infected the crew of these ships and dying bodies lay everywhere. This plague killed entire families at a time and destroyed at least 1,000 villages. Greatly contributing to the Crisis of the Fourteenth Century, the Black Death had many effects beyond its immediate symptoms. Not only did the Black Death take a devastating toll on human life, but it also played a major role in shaping European life in the years following.

The Black Death consisted mainly of Bubonic plague, but pneumonic plague was also present in the epidemic. Symptoms of the Bubonic plague included high fever, aching limbs, and blood vomiting ("The Black Death, 1348,"). Most characteristic of the disease were swollen lymph nodes, which grew until they finally burst. Death followed soon after. The name Black Death not only referred to the sinister nature of the disease, but also to the black coloring of the victims' swollen glands. Pneumonic



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