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The Black Death in Western Europe - Research Paper Example

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Instructor name Date The Black Death The Black Death began its grisly march across Western Europe in 1347. The first outbreak lasted approximately four years killing about 40 percent of the European population and would reappear periodically over the next 300 years although the first outbreak is commonly regarded as the worst…
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The Black Death in Western Europe
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Download file to see previous pages Larger cities were the worst affected because more densely populated areas spread the disease more quickly than rural areas due to poor sanitary conditions existing at that time. The plague would come to a region, last for approximately a year, kill roughly one-third of the population then move on to another area. Most historians believe that more than one-third of Europe’s entire human population (20 to 30 million people) died between 1347 and 1351. The massive numbers of deaths were not the Plague’s only consequence, however. It also affected the political, social and economic landscape of this large area of the world. The poorest segment of society was the most affected because they were more likely to reside in unhealthy conditions and had insufficient means by which to safeguard their health. The massive decline in population caused the economy of all European nations to be negatively affected with an expected surplus of food supplies and other products. “Prices fell greatly which allowed those that survived the Plague to enjoy more wealth which stimulated the economies in the respective regions. However, when more money is being circulated, inflation is generally the byproduct which caused prices to steadily rise, causing economies to again suffer.” 1 The Black Death changed everyday life in all types of communities. Larger towns were the most affected overall because they were major trade centers but when the disease hit smaller towns and villages the awful results were extremely destructive to the communal harmony. In the smaller towns, everyone knew and depended on everyone else but after the Plague’s outbreak people turned away from their neighbors, family and friends whom they had known their entire lives. The Plague spread terror throughout the community largely due to the mysterious quality of the disease. Its extremely contagious nature changed people’s attitudes regarding the significance of community. “People abandoned their friends and family, fled cities, and shut themselves off from the world. Funeral rites became perfunctory or stopped altogether, and work ceased being done.” 2 Gradually, community officials implemented a method to help eradicate the Plague from a community. Isolating victims helped to keep it from spreading as quickly but this technique also heartlessly stigmatized large sectors of a community. Those that exhibited symptoms were forced to remain in their homes. Naturally, this method resulted in a death sentence for the victim and their family. “From these and many similar or worse occurrences, there came about such fear and such fantastic notions among those who remained alive that almost all of them took a very cruel attitude in the matter; that is, they completely avoided the sick and their possessions; and in doing so, each one believed that he was protecting his good health.” 3 The massive panic was accompanied by widespread isolation which grew progressively more extreme as the number of dead mounted. Those infected and their families became progressively more secluded and shunned when they most needed the emotional understanding and physical care from neighbors and friends. “The fact was that one citizen avoided another that almost no one cared for his neighbor, and that relatives rarely or hardly ever visited each other. They stayed far apart.” ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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