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The Black Death 1348-1350 - Research Paper Example

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The Black Death (1348-1350) The Great Mortality, as the Black Death was popularly known, spread its dark wings across the European civilization without a warning and swept away more than one-third of the population in Europe. The effect was aggravated by the unpreparedness and lack of medical remedies owing to unfamiliarity with the disease…
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The Black Death 1348-1350
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Download file to see previous pages Epidemics similar to the Black Death have followed over the centuries. The Great Plague of 1665 was also akin to the Black Death and led to the deaths of around 15-20 percent of the populationi. The controversies around the Black Death’s causes and effects bring out the historical significance of the pandemic in more than one way. Causes The deaths during the second pandemic (The Black Death) were brought about by an epidemic which entailed appearance of sore swelling of lymph nodes in different parts of the human body (especially armpits and groin). High fever followed this and caused deaths rapidly. The epidemic was supposedly caused by black rat fleas and popularly known as the Bubonic plague. The initial belief about the endogenous nature of the Black Death does not hold true in the modern time. Rather, scientists have detected some external pathogen, a rod shaped bacteria called Yersinia pestis as the responsible factor. A Swiss biologist Alexandre Yersin identified this in 1894, much after the plague had mercilessly cut down the population of Europeii. Yersin also concluded that rodents and insect vectors spread this bacterium amongst human beings. The particular flea which causes this disease is known as xenopsylla cheopisiii. Despite the differences in opinions amongst historians, they agreed on some common points while analyzing the factors behind the Black Death. During the High Middle Ages, Europe was undergoing a persistent population growth along with almost disease-free society. Apart from this, innovations and advancements in technological and agricultural fields, Europe also managed some political stability which brought about a decrease in invasion. This provided a perfect environment for the increase in population from 25 million to 75 million (from 950 to 1250) and a rapid urbanization or development of townsiv. Despite all, a majority of wealth came from the land and its produce. The advancements made in agricultural techniques led to improvements in soil and seed quality and therefore, brought about better cultivation. The Medieval Europe reached the peak of development during 1200-1250. From 1250 onwards some changes took place and environmental or climatic changes were significant among these. According to historians understanding these changes were important to observe the impact on pre-modern society. The movements of glaciers and pollens indicate an improvement in this respect till early thirteenth centuryv. This situation of “little optimum”vi enabled all round development in political, social and economic arenas. But the environment grew colder gradually and this affected agriculture. Even trade was hampered and hence supply of foodstuffs became scarce. High fertility rates and continuous population growth worsened the situation. The surplus in food production built over the years began to fall. While the environment grew colder and wetter, a severe Malthusian crisis emerged in Europe which was growing economically poorvii. Food prices also began to increase and conditions of peasants worsened under pressure from the landlords. However the population of peasants began to increase owing to low mortality rates and absence of any killing disease. Crop failures and famines pursued. As food crops became scarce, people began to live more on livestock. Unhealthy eating habits ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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