The plagueThe Plague – one of the most dangerous and most feared Infectious diseases the world. In Middle age it spreads from Asia from all over the world and demanded Millions Human life. In the following, you will learn what the plague is, how the Black Death shook medieval Europe to its foundations, what measures were taken at the time to protect against the plague and whether the plague still exists today.
The plague – definition
The Plague is a highly contagiousInfectious disease. It is transmitted by the Yersinia pestis" bacterium caused and ended, especially if untreated, with the Death.
It belongs to the so-called "zoonoses" – is therefore disease of animal origins, but which humans transmissible is.
The word plague is derived from the Latin "pestis" ab and means as much as "Plague.
Carrier the plague are mainly rodents and parasitic species, living on the rodents, for example Fleas. If the disease is transmitted to humans, however, it is also the human being to a highly contagious carrier and spreaders of the infection.
Basically, a distinction is made between the bubonic plague, the pneumonic plagueand the abortive plaguedistinguished. The bubonic plague is characterized by Development of purulent bumps spread all over the body, whereby the pathogen is flea bites is transmitted.
The pneumonic plague on the other hand is mostly Consequence of bubonic plague and leads untreated in only few days to death.
The abortive plague is a mild form of the disease, with those who contract it for the most part having only a slight fever or swelling of the lymph nodes.
The plague in Europe
The plague raged in Europe mainly in the 14. The Black Death was known as the Black Death in the sixteenth century. In the following you will learn everything important about the initial situation in medieval Europe, about the origin and spread of the Black Death and about the measures that were taken against the plague over the centuries.
Black Death – The great plague outbreak in 14. Century
Under the term "Black Death one understands the Europe-wide plague outbreak, which in the years from 1346 to 1353 raged.
The Black Death counts to the most devastating disease outbreaks of human history and cost in Europe about 25 million. People the life.
The Black Death was the deadliest plague wave in medieval Europe, but even after their end in 1353 the disease broke out again and again on the continent.
With 25 million. victims died in only 7 years circa a thirdof the European population – this means about one in three fell victim to the plague.
Already in the Ancientand in the earlyMiddle Ages there had been Plague outbreaks in the European region given. From 6. until 8. Century for example raged again and again the so-called "Justinian's Plague" in the European Mediterranean.
To this day, however, it remains unclear how the plague was then transmitted in the 8th century. Century "simply" from the European continent disappear could. Only around 600 years later should it reappear there – then in the form of the Black Death.
Figure 1: The spread of the Black Death in Europe between 1347 – 1351.
Initial situation in medieval Europe
The population in Europe grew at that time very quickly. The Urban developmentprogressed rapidly, many new cities were founded and the "urban" immigration was, by the standards of the time, enormously. Between the 10. and 13. Centurythe European population had almost quadrupled.
Main population centers were among others:
Medical knowledge in medieval Europe
The Medicine as science at that time was only little attention given. The since the Ancient known Four-juices doctrine (med. humoral pathology)was still considered logical and was thus the most unchallenged medical theory and practice.
The medical Four-juices doctrine was based on the amption that all diseases were caused by aImbalance of the human humorsarose (yellow bile, black bile, blood and mucus). diseases were caused by a "Ausgleichen" of the sap household – in the case of "excess blood" one was let bleed for example.
Bloodletting was a very popular method of "curing" people of various diseases since ancient times.
Blood was taken from the sick to bring the four humors of the body back into balance.
Epidemic However, diseases wereno novelty in medieval Europe, and at certain times it had probably already hygienic regulations in dealing with such diseases given. But either
these methods were with the timeinto oblivionget,
or they werefor not necessary in dealing with the plague considered.
or they were actively avoided, in order not to have Panic in the population.
Figure 2: Representation of the four-juice doctrine from 16. Century.Source: wikipedia.org.
The Black Death – origin and spread of the plague
The plague was probably introduced around the year 1347 n. Chr. through sailors and traders from China introduced into Europe via various trade routes. The origin of the disease lay according to today's knowledge thus in Asian region.
First widespread the disease probably developed in the Turkey, in coastal areas of the Mediterranean (such as Greece and Italy) and also on theCrimea (Ukraine).
The decisive factor here was large trading cities of Italy such as Venice and Genoa with their Europe-wide trading colonies. These were ports of call for traders fromall over the world and thus opened the gateway to Europe for the plague. Due to the extensive intercontinental tradeof these cities and their colonies the plague then spread piece by piece across the entire continent.
Causes of the plague from the medieval point of view
Today we know that a bacterium that causes the plague – in the Middle Ages however one still possessed no medical knowledge around infections and pathogens.
Therefore one tried the outbreak of the plague otherwise and/or "non-medical" to explain:
ForReligious (and that was the majority of the population) the plague was eGod's punishment for the sinfulness of these of the people.
scientists on the other hand suspected that the plague was caused by toxic fumes from the ground or the Atmosphere was triggered.
Still others sought human scapegoat – at that time, many of theJewish community members accused of having poisoned the drinking water. At this time also the so-called Plague pogroms taken place – Jews were actively persecuted and killed.
Black death – plague vector
But not only the infected sailors and merchants were Plague carriers, but also the animal passengers on the ships and carts. In the Middle Ages were mainly the countless rats and their fleas. The rodents were at that time everywhere especially in the large cities, which caused a optimal living space for the animals offered.
The animal hoststurned out to be devastating, since to them, unlike to the people, no regulations for containmentof the plague could be made – they could move freely and spread the pathogen.
Black Death – type of plague and symptoms
The plague occurred most frequently in Europe in the form of the bubonic plagueon. With this swell theLymph nodes on the neck, in the armpits and in the groin, strongly increasing. The bumps could be diameters of up to 10 cm ame considerable proportions. They dye blue-black, hardened, festered and decayed ulcerously. That then secretion is highly infectious.
At that time one knew howevernothing about the different types of infection (droplet, smear infection etc.), therefore people could also no preventive measures take.
Where and when the term "Black Death" first appeared, is controversial – as is its origin. Medical seen, however, the term is applied to the just mentioned Blackening of the plague bumpsand the black plague decree led back.
Other factors in the spread of the plague
Not only during the plague wave of the Black Death, but also to the subsequent epidemic outbreaks in Europe favored especially the lack of medical knowledge the spread of the plague.
But there were also other factors, which is a major contributor to the spread of the epidemic have:
which generally poor hygienic conditions, especially in the cities.
Mass gatherings, mainly in the form of religious services of the faithful, who wanted to protect themselves from the disease through prayer and confession – in the process, the plague only spread faster this way. Plague raged. Thus, the plague hosts spread only the faster. Widespread throughout Europe. So the plague hosts spread only the faster. More widespread throughout Europe.
For a long time the stillhighly contagious plague dead without special precautions This further promoted the spread of the disease.
Great plague of London
How devastating a plague outbreak in a urban agglomeration really was, can be seen at the Great Plague of London in the years 1665/ 1666 recognize.
At that time, the epidemic raged in the South of England and in just under a year claimed over 100.000 fatalities – but alone 70.000of which died in the English Capital London. The many people on the narrow area of the city, the plague idealConditions to spread. The Great Plague of London was, by the way, also one of the last major plague outbreaks in Europe.
Figure 3: The plague dead lying in the streets of London. Illustration of the Great Plague of London in 1665.Source: wikipedia.org.
The plague – containment attempts and measures
During the plague wave of the Black Death from 1346 to 1353 people knew not, what they were dealing with. Due to a lack of knowledge, as good as No attempts at containment or countermeasuresinstead of. This also explains theimmense number of fatalities.
But in the course of timelearned the people of medieval Europe gradually became acquainted with the disease. End of the 14.. beginning of the 15. and at the beginning of the 15. At the end of the nineteenth century, it was recognized, for example, that the spread of the plague wasIsolation of the diseased could be contained. In Veneto and some other cities, the first saunas were established at this time quarantine stations. Seafarers* traveling from severely affected countries or regions were quarantined for30 – 40 days put under surveillance. A number of other measures were also taken.
Effective were, for example:
– The Marking of houses of infected. – The "Locking yourself in" of the diseased in their homes or accommodation in separate accommodations outside the city.
However, there were also fewer to noineffective measures, which were widespread:
– The belief that by scents, from the "plague breath" that was inhaled protectcould. – That Maskscould protect against the disease. – That the Spraying of rose water helped against the plague.
The plague city – quarantine measures to contain the plague in17. Century
Even if the Black death was the largest plague outbreak in Europe – the disease came back again and again in the following centuries. End of the 17. Century had already made much progress in terms of the containment measures the plague affected. I n some cities one partly worked out sophisticated quarantine regulations:
– An affected city was completely sealed off – no one was allowed to leave or enter the. – The cities were divided into individual sealed off plots which were then divided by the so-called Intendant were managed. – The director set up every street of the plot a responsible supervisor – the syndic. – In the event of quarantineinhabitants of the individual roads for the corresponding period locked up in their homes by the syndic. Violated one without permission of the intendant or the syndic against one of these Rules, so one killed.
This procedure seems veryradically, it, however, contributed significantly to the containment of the epidemic by Contact between the townspeople on reduced to a minimum respectively completely prohibited.
Figure 4: Augsburg plague tablet as a warning sign of the epidemic – from the 17. Century.Source: wikipedia.org.
The Plague – Treatment Methods in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Times
The Treatment methods the plague symptoms in the Middle Ages and also in the early modern period were very limited.
People still adhered to the four-juice doctrinethe antiquity, so the main treatments consisted for example of:
the administration of emetics.
the treatment of the bumps with the help of leeches.
These methods, however, did not cure the sick but weakened they only continued.
The trigger of the plague, the bacterium "Yersinia pestis", by the way, was not discovered until years 1894 of the doctor Alexandre Yersin discovered.
plague doctors (also called plague doctors), were considered in the Middle Ages to be "experts the treatment the disease. Their medical knowledge, but above all their willingness to consciously expose themselves to the plague, made them a much sought-after occupational group. Especially in large cities they were consulted again and again and charged with caring for the sick – the plague doctors saw to thethe sick and also noted the fatalities.
For these risky work they got from the city and/or from the families of the plague patients pay generously.
Figure 5: Plague doctors with characteristic "beak mask – Engraving by Paul Furst around ca. 1656.Source: wikipedia.org.
The plague – consequences of the plague for medieval society
To Black Death in the 14. In the 16th century, a good third of the European population fell victim – and this brought not only short-term but also long-term consequences with it. What exactly the plague meant for the people in the Middle Ages so?
During the plague:
Above all it meant a lonely death. Because of quarantine regulations (or out of pure self-protection), many family members were unable to care for their loved ones.
Many people lived not only in fear of the plague, but also in fear of other people. The plague was the trigger for mistrust towards andPersecutionof certain social groups (for example, the persecution of Jews).
Even while the plague was still raging, many people in the face of seemingly inevitable deaththeir work down – some used the time to pray and repent, others wanted to enjoy the remaining time of life to the fullest enjoy.
Because of the missing workers fields lay fallow and overgrown and workshops were abandoned. → As a result, during the plagueto supply shortages and in the Afterwardsalso to lack of "skilled workers, what was caused by the "thinned out society was only intensified.
The missing workers were an enormous problem of the "post-plague society". country could no longer farmed andWagescould no longer paid become.
In the course of time, the circumstance oflack of workers also increased to migrations from other countries, what a culturally differentiated society had as a consequence. People had to become more flexible. Learned to rethink. Thus were settlements and areas, which are too sparsely populated or no economic benefit Had more, abandoned and in more suitable places werenew villages/towns founded.
But the plague also caused Progress in medieval "health care. The introduction of quarantine regulations, for example, was an important achievement.
The lastplague outbreak in Europe was in the year1945 in Italy – since then there was no more official case.
Nevertheless, it occurs in other parts of the worldagain and again outbreaks of the disease especially in regions North and South America, Asia and Africa. Most recently, an outbreak of the plague 2017 on Madagascar known, although this outbreak was very quickly recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) contained could be.