The Middle Ages The Black Death Right click on the map and select “Open Hyperlink” to see the spread of the Black Death
Resources “Plague” - National Geographic “Black Death: Lasting Impact” – BBC “The Role of Trading in Transmitting the Black Death” – American University “The Middle Ages – The Black Death” – History Department, Boise State University “The Plague” – Decameron Web, Brown University
Q&A • What was the Black Death? What caused it? The Black Death was a Medieval pandemic that spread from China to Europe from 1339 to 1351. No one knows why the disease broke out in the Gobi Desert, after centuries of dormancy. Nevertheless, it spread by caravan routes and more readily by ships. Following the trade routes, it had a circuitous path that took it from the Near East to the Western Mediterranean, to Northern Europe, and back to Russia. The medical term for the disease is the bubonic plague, which lives in the digestive track of fleas that are carried by rodents and passed on to humans. During the Middle Ages, rats were a major factor in spreading the disease. The disease is called the Black Death because the lymph nodes swell and turn black as a result.
Q&A Who or what did the Medieval people believe caused the plague? The common people believed that the plague was caused by the wrath of God, but the public officials , learned people, and even churchmen did not believe the plague was punishment from God. One medical opinion of the learned people was that poisonous vapors from a celestial event under the sign of Aquarius was the cause. Thinking it was transmitted by air, people used incense and oils for prevention, and some even believed that sound would cure the disease and so rang the church bells or fired cannons. Some Christians traveled in bands around the country openly inflicting punishment on themselves for the sins of the world that they believed caused the plague. Jews were also a target, with people blaming them for poisoning wells or practicing witchcraft leading to the plague.
Q&A What were the social and economic effects of the plague? Please list three below.
Q&A What about the Black Death specifically interests you?