The Spread of the Black Plague in Europeby Rit Nosotro
Change Over Time Essay
Trace the path of the Black Plague along the trade routes from east to west. Analyze the social, religious and economic impact.
The Black Plague spread from Asia into Europe in the mid fourteenth century and killed thousands along its path of destruction. Trade, war, and other contacts between Europe and Asia caused the diseases to spread. The plague impacted Europe in more ways than just killing about a third of the population. The plague impacted Europe's social fabric in that it tore people apart in the fight to survive. The church lost the trust of many and Europe's economy also suffered greatly during the plague. These factors sum up a Europe that was devastated by more than death.
Through the years Europe built up a relation with the Far East. Through this relation goods were carried from one culture to the other. Although this relationship may have seemed beneficial, it brought devastating affects on Europe. Although difficult to reliably tracing the exact start of the plague to an exact source, However, historians of science have traced the culprits back to Asian fleas and rats. Rats carried flees to spread the Black plague across Europe. For example, an infected flea (host) infects a human whom another flea bites and becomes infected, and so on. Once the mutated plague became airborne, the plague spread even more rapidly.
The plague hurt Europe's society considerably. As people died by the thousands, fear of the Plague drove many to abandon their family. Children were often left to their own devices, as their parents feared giving them the Plague or getting it from them. Family values and society broke down as neighbor turned against neighbor and brother against brother in order to save his own life. For most it was every man for himself.
Many people, desperate for answers, turned to the Church. The Church told the people of Europe that it was God's will to have the Plague. Many thought it unjust of God and turned away from the Church. Even priests, bishops and other church officials, were driven by fear to hide from the dreaded Plague. The Catholic Church deteriorated during the Plague setting the stage for the Protestant Reformation.
As for Europe's economy, it did not escape the ravages of the Plague. All across Europe thousands died and among those thousands were farmers, artisans, serfs, and lords. Along with all of these deaths came the stagnation of work in these different fields. As farmers began to die off and so did agriculture. Artisans began to die off and so did their trades. Feudal Europe fell apart making way for new structures of prosperity through entrepreneurial capitol. An interesting side effect was that clothes were recycled into inexpensive rag paper to be used with the invention of printing and the spread of the Bible.
The Black Plague brought much more than death to Europe. It brought social breakdowns, a disinterest in the Church, and economic stagnation. However, the Church was right in saying that God intended the Plague. Although then and even now the exact purposes that God had behind the Plague are not known, all may rest assured that it served a purpose in God's eyes even though we do not understand it.
1. How did the plague spread so rapidly across Europe?
a) fleas on rats
b) It was hereditary
c) Unsanitary foods from the East
d) Asian computer virus
2. What was the social impact of the plague on Europe?
a) All of Europe banded together to fight the plague
b) Brother turned against brother
c) Society was knit closer together in the end
d) Families moved closer to each other
3. What was the impact of the plague on the Church?
a) The Church grew in power
b) Many people abandoned hope in the church
c) The priests were good examples to their flocks
d) The church invested millions in disease research
4. How did the plague impact Europe's economy?
a) Europe stayed prosperous through continued trade with the East
b) Agriculture boomed since crops were in high demand
c) The economy became stagnant and dropped
d) Medical insurance companies went bankrupt
Answers: 1a, 2b, 3b, 4c
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