July 1, 1346 - The Black Plague

By Samantha Shaener

In October of 1347, 12 ships docked at a port in Sicily. Many people gathered around the dock to welcome the crew back home. The people at the docks were horrified to see that most of the crew were dead and covered in black boils oozing with blood and pus. This was the first time the plague had hit. Sicilian authorities tried to stop more ships from coming into the ports, but it was too late. Five years later, Europe was down 20 million people, almost one-third of the continent’s population. It is not certain how the plague got onto the ships, but people think the plague was first seen in Asia and was passed between people through trading ships.

Once someone close to you had the plague, it was most likely heading your way. The plague could be passed by someone simply touching a piece of clothing. Continually, when a person first got infected by the plague the symptoms didn’t show up for a few days, so people were passing the plague before they knew they were infected. Furthermore, when symptoms began to appear people would see huge black spots on their groin or armpits. These spots were called “plague-boils” and were the size of eggs, and sometimes even apples. Along with the boils, other symptoms were fever, chills, vomiting, diarrhea, and aches. Following the symptoms, death came. It was very hard to survive this disease, especially once it had spread to the blood and lungs. In addition, not only did the Europeans have a deathly disease going around their continent, they also had awful hygiene. They barely bathed, lived very close each other, and would leave dead bodies in the middle of the streets. These actions were another reason why the plague spread all over Europe so fast. Additionally, because the plague was so easy to catch, doctors refused to see patients which didn’t allow anyone to get better. People tried to do as much as they could to avoid the plague, but it always found a way of infecting them.

This event drastically changed history. First, it impacted and shaped many of Asia and Europe societies. The Bubonic Plague killed millions of people which had a drastic effect on the world’s population at the time. The Black Death also impacted the world on knowledge. They knew very little about the plague which made it spread and last for so long. Societies began learning about how to stop and prevent tragedies like this to happen again. Not only did the people suffer from the plague, the economy also went into a depression. People avoided going to crowded places like markets, and other various stores, so no one was making an income or salary. There was also no trading between countries which resulted in some countries having a lack of resources. Overall, the Black Death had a huge impact on history and the people who lived through it.

 

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