Black Plague Essays

The Black Death of 1347–1351 and subsequent visitations of the plague, including the Great Plague that hit London in 1665, constituted the Second Pandemic. The Third Pandemic began in China in the late eighteenth century, spread from there throughout much of the world, and ended by the mid-twentieth century. Their descriptions are broadly similar, pointing to fever, headache, lethargy, dark patches or small black pustules on the skin, and buboes or swollen lymph glands in the armpit, groin, or neck. Its main symptoms are exactly those described by medieval sources: headache, chills, nausea, and fever followed by hard and increasingly painful swellings near lymph nodes in the neck behind the ears, armpits, and groin.

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1347–13–1362) from bioarchaeological and historical perspectives, focusing on attempts to reconstruct mortality patterns and addressing the questions: Who died in England during the Black Death? We evaluate how historical and bioarchaeological sources are uniquely informative about these questions and highlight the limitations that are associated with each type of data.

The combination of the two bodies of evidence, when possible, can provide insights that are not possible when each is analyzed in isolation.

Medieval documentary sources also offer information on the spread, seasonality, and duration of the disease.

Chroniclers identified the first English victims during the summer of 1348 in port towns, emphasizing its arrival on ships from the Continent, though they disagree on the exact dates (sometime between late June and late September) and which ports it struck first (Bristol, Southampton, or Melcombe).

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Please contact [email protected] use this work in a way not covered by the license. According to this view, the First Pandemic was the Plague of Justinian, which began in the sixth century C. E., with recurrent outbreaks for about two centuries thereafter. In the four years that the Black Death was at its height in Europe (between 13), the epidemic killed 30 to 60 percent of the population, amounting to tens of millions of people. This essay argues that a full understanding of the epidemiology of this devastating plague—that is, its levels of mortality; the distribution of deaths by age, sex, wealth, and location; and the susceptibility of victims to disease—can only be attained by bringing together archaeological and documentary evidence. Outbreaks of plague continue to this day, although modern antibiotics and public health measures have greatly reduced the mortality rate and spread of the disease. Scholarly disagreement about whether the Black Death was the same bubonic plague of the Third Pandemic or some other disease has raged for some time, but the recent discovery of , including the significantly higher mortality and faster spread of medieval plague, and the likelihood that medieval plague did not follow the same transmission path from animal host to flea to humans often identified in modern bubonic plague. “Re-assessing Josiah Russell’s Measurements of Late Medieval Mortality Using the Inquisitions . The documentary sources employed by historians to analyze the Black Death have been known for some time. They include chronicles, which offer direct statements from contemporaries about the symptoms, pace, and mortality rates of the plague, as well as appointments of parish priests, wills, and especially manorial records, which reflect the experience of the rural majority. We focus on the people who succumbed to the Black Death in medieval England and make a deliberate effort to compare and contrast not only what the different types of documentary and material evidence say, but also the analytic questions and methodological approaches that different disciplines have adopted to discuss plague during the fourteenth century, particularly the first (1348–1349) and second (1361–1362) waves of the Black Death. The Black Death is increasingly recognized as a semi-global phenomenon, likely starting in East Asia and spreading throughout Central Asia, Europe, and North Africa., the bacterium associated with plague.


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