Whi unit 13-Late Medieval Era The Black Death

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WHI Unit 13—Late Medieval Era

The Black Death

The Black Death

The Black Death was one of the worst natural disasters in history. In 1347 A.D., the Bubonic plague swept over Europe and ravaged cities causing widespread hysteria and death. One third of the population of Europe died. The primary culprits in transmitting this disease were fleas carried on the back of black rats.

The bubonic plague was the most commonly seen form of the Black Death. The mortality rate was 30-75%. The symptoms were enlarged and inflamed lymph nodes (around arm pits, neck and groin). The term 'bubonic' refers to the characteristic bubo or enlarged lymphatic gland (see picture below). Victims were subject to headaches, nausea, aching joints, fever of 101-105 degrees, vomiting, and a general feeling of illness. Symptoms took from 1-7 days to appear.

In its most severe forms the mortality rate was close to 100% (even today there is no treatment). Symptoms were a high fever and skin turning deep shades of purple. The picture below demonstrates what the Bubonic plague can look like. In its most deadly form the plague can cause a victim’s skin to turn dark purple. The Black Death got its name from this deep purple, almost black discoloration. Victims usually died the same day symptoms appeared. In some cities, as many as 800 people died every day.


Impact on Europe’s Economy

The Black Death had a major impact on Medieval Europe’s economy. Shortages of workers were the largest problems. Simply put: many laborers and skilled workers were dead; there was no one to do the work. As a result, the few surviving skilled workers and peasants were able to demand more money for the work they performed. Many of the working poor people saw so much death they wanted to enjoy life. Serfs began to leave their land and not engage in the planting of crops. As fewer people were willing to work on large farming manors, the feudal system was weakened (farms needed people to work on them).

Impact on the Authority of the Church
 One of the groups that suffered the most was the Christian church. It lost prestige, spiritual authority, and leadership over the people. How? The church promised cures, treatment, and an explanation for the plague. They said it was God's will, but the reason for this awful punishment was unknown. People wanted answers, but the priests and bishops didn't have any. The clergy abandoned their Christian duties and fled. People prayed to God and begged for forgiveness. After the plague, ended angry and frustrated villagers started to revolt against the church.

  1. The Black Death was an outbreak of what disease?

  1. What year did the Black Death outbreak begin?

  1. How much of Europe’s population died from the Black Death?

  1. What spread the disease?

  1. What were some of the Black Death’s symptoms?

  1. Where did the name “Black Death” come from?

  1. How did the Black Death cause labor shortages?

  1. What were the workers who survived able to demand from nobles and employers?

  1. How did the Black Death weaken the Feudal System?

  1. How did the Black Death result in a loss of influence for the Church? (why were people angry at the church?)

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