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The Black Death


The Black Death Key questions There are 3 questions that will be asked during the course of the lesson; 1. What is the Black Death ? 2. – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Black Death

The Black Death
Key questions
  • There are 3 questions that will be asked during
    the course of the lesson
  • 1. What is the Black Death?
  • 2. What caused the Black Death?
  • 3. What were the consequences?

The plague arrives
  • Historians think that the plague arrived in
    England during the summer of 1348. During the
    following autumn it spread quickly through the
    south west. Few villages escaped. Churchyards
    were full with bodies.
  • The plague spread quickly during the winter of
    1348-1349 to the north of England. By 1350,
    nearly the whole of Britain was infected with the
  • At the end of 1350 nearly two and a half million
    people were dead!

Where did the Black Death come from?
What were the symptoms of the plague?
What caused the plague?
  • The question that you are probably thinking is
  • Q Who or what caused the Black Death?
  • A This is your answer!

The Oriental Rat Flea!
How was the plague transmitted?
  • We now know that the most common form of the
    Black Death was the BUBONIC PLAGUE! This disease
    was spread by fleas which lived on the black rat.
    The fleas sucked the rats blood which contained
    the plague germs. When the rat died the fleas
    jumped on to humans and passed on the deadly

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Two Types
  • The Pneumonic Plague, became a killer when the
    infection reached the lungs.
  • Because it destroyed the breathing system, this
    plague could be caught if someone breathed on you.
  • Bubonic Plague did not affect the victims lungs,
    but caused large swellings as the body fought the
  • To catch this type of plague you had to be bitten
    by a flea that had already bitten a black rat.

The Pneumonic Plague
  • Second most commonly seen form of the Black Death

  • Medieval people did not know about germs causing
    disease. They did not understand that plague was
    spread by rats and fleas. They thought that
    peoples bodies were poisoned.
  • If the swellings burst and the poison came out
    people sometimes survived. It seemed sensible to
    draw out the poison.

Medieval cure number 1
  • The swellings should be softened with figs and
    cooked onions. The onions should be mixed with
    yeast and butter. Then open the swellings with a

Medieval cure number 2
  • Take a live frog and put its belly on the plague
    sore. The frog will swell up and burst. Keep
    doing this with further frogs until they stop
    bursting. Some people say that a dried toad will
    do the job better.

Other Medieval Cures
  • Rub the body with melted butter.
  • Tie a small bag of garlic around your neck. The
    smell would keep the plague away.
  • Go to church and ask for forgiveness.
  • Avoid breathing in the same air as a plague
  • Sit next to a blazing hot fire.
  • Brick or board up houses with the sick inside.

  • How useful do you think these medieval cures
    actually were? Did they help at all or were they
    more harmful?

Consequences for Population
  • Urban populations recovered quickly
  • Rural populations recovered slowly
  • Friars took a couple of generations to recover
  • Pre-plague population reached in the 1500s or
  • Later period of Middle Ages was characterized by
    chronically reduced population

Consequences for Population
  • 1348
  • Gaza 10.000 dead
  • Aleppo 500 dead per day
  • Damascus 1000 dead per day
  • Syria total of 400.000 dead
  • Lower mortality rate in the Middle East of less
    than one third of population

Economic Consequences
  • Shortage of laborers? rising wages for peasants
    and artisans
  • Valuable artisan skills disappeared
  • Oversupply of goods ? prices dropped
  • For the living, standard of living rose!
  • Landlords stopped freeing their serfs? serfs
    revolting and leaving the land
  • The oppressed demanded fairer treatment

Economic Consequences
  • The great equalizer
  • Lack of sufficient law enforcement personnel
  • Promoted lawlessness
  • People tried their luck

Religious Consequences
  • Persecutions of the Jews scapegoats
  • Massacres and burnings
  • By 1351, 60 major and 150 smaller Jewish
    communities had been exterminated
  • Lepers were also targeted
  • Jews expelled, moved to Poland Lithuania

Religious Consequences
  • Church lost prestige, spiritual authority,
  • Promised cures, treatment, and explanations
  • No answers to the people
  • Revolt against the church
  • Severe shortage of clergy functioned as nurses
    and consequently died.
  • The church targeted the Jews for persecution
    had killed Jesus and brought sin to the world

Music and Art
  • Culture turned morbid
  • Sense of death impending inevitable
  • Death is a game, like chess!
  • Dance of death death is random
  • Everyone suffered
  • Despair

Music and Art
  • Danse Macabre the dance of death skeletons
    mingling with the living (here Hans Holbein the
  • Shocking juxtapositions
  • Written language almost lost
  • Coffins had pictures of corpses on the lid
  • New creativity in motives

The Children
  • Ring a-round the rosy rosary beads give you
    Gods help
  • Pocket full of posies used to stop the odor of
    rotting bodies through to cause the plague
  • Ashes, ashes! the church burned the dead when
    burying became too laborious
  • We all fall down! dead
  • Children suffered mentally and physically
  • Children were not thought worth the trouble to

And Now?
  • The bubonic Plague still exists
  • Quite common among rodent populations
  • A cure is known today but the disease moves
    very quickly
  • The Plague is still with us
  • Hythe Ossuary, remains of victims of the Black
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