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Western Civilization Reading Essay

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Western Civilization Reading Essay #2

        The black death was a bubonic plague that came to Europe in 1347. The plague came from Eastern and Central Asia and traveled into Europe through trade from rats traveled in cargo ships. The fleas on the rats were what transmitted the disease. The ships coming from Asia would dock and unload and the rats would enter the city. After entering the city the fleas would leave the company of the rat and find a human host to bite and infect. The only reason that the rats and fleas were able to survive were because of the dirty conditions of the economy in Europe at the time. The bubonic plague killed so many people so quickly that the surviving could not bury the bodies fast enough. The two majors with this were that there were not enough peasants left in the fields and this meant that nobles had to work their own fields and most nobles did not have the experience or knowledge to do that well. Peasants used this to their advantage because they could now charge higher wages and nobles would have no other choice but to pay it.

        A lot of Europeans viewed the black death as punishment from God for their sins. Medically speaking, they were not very well developed for effective treatment for the plague. The doctors during this time believed that the plague was caused by toxic air due to rotting material in the environment. The King of England protested about the filth in the streets for this very reason.  After the Black Death a decline in trade and halt on wars was almost immediate. Although both of these resumed fairly quickly after the fact. The plague was considered to be a natural selection event because it was seen to have served as an eliminator of all the weak and frail human beings causing their descendants to be healthier and stronger. This made Europe stronger and healthier after the bubonic plague had made its way through Europe.

        Residents of London were used to being around the dead and people were buried on church grounds. Churchyards were the communal spots that were the center of the deceased. Prior to the plague, the Church had nearly absolute power. Due to the fact that many saw this as a punishment from God they no longer wanted to follow canon law. This shook people's confidence in their beliefs and authority. Europeans were outraged at the fat that the church had no explanation for what was going on. Europe's population was drastically affected by black death more negatively than positively. Population decreased by the millions. The mortality rate for humans who contracted the bubonic plague ranged from 30-75%. One-third of the European population was dead over the course of only two years, solid proof that the population was so severely affected. Europe was not going to be a quick recover demographically speaking. Contrary to popular belief despite many of the negative effects of the bubonic plague on the population was one positive effect: for the small amount of population who managed to survive the disease, they gained a natural immunity to the plague. This disabled them from ever being able to catch it again. This was good for Europe since the plague occurred many times over the following three hundred years. Thus, this did not cause the population to shrink as fast or as much as it did in the mid-fourteenth century.



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