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An’Shalai Anthony
Ms. Tierce
English IV
5 March 2015
Why DEATH is considered BLACK?
What is the most devastating epidemic of infectious disease in human history, resulting in
the deaths of a estimated 75 to 200 million people? Living in the Middle Ages, many people
encountered a various number of diseases, yet the Black Plague was the most tragic of them all.
Scientists state that the Black Death, now known as the bubonic plague, is spread by a
disease-producing bacterium called Yersinia pestis (History.com). This is an infectious disease
which means that it can be “caught” or caused by bacteria or viruses stated from James Giblin.
The bubonic plague was a painful disease, with black buboes, or swellings, in the groin and
armpits (BCC News). Symptoms of this particular disease have multiple stages. According to
“The Black Death” the first stage in which will be the first sign of the plague would be severe
headaches and redness of the eyes. Following this, there will be signs of inflammations of the
tongue, hoarseness, and hacking cough. Further along the line, the third stage would be major
intestinal upsets, vomiting, and acute diarrhea. Temperatures rose and fevers grew; as bodies
broke out in reddish spots. Later stages will result into the victim sinking into a delirium. Many
people usually who are exposed or get this disease will be dead within several days from the
occurrence of the first symptom (James Giblin).
James Cross Giblin writes that the Plague of Athens struck early in the summer of 430
B.C., when the city was full of refuges. The first cases were reported in Piraeus, the port in which
severed Athens. The Black Plague then arrived in Europe by sea in October 1347. Sailors aboard

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a ship arrived with a fever, unable to keep their lunch down and delirious from pain; were in the
last stages of the plague (History.com). The bubonic plague had spread as far as England, where
people called it “The Black Death” because of the black spots that have produced on the skin.
The first person to call it the 'Black Death' was a British historian, Elizabeth Penrose, in 1823
(BBC News).
A number of people believed that the Black Death was a kind of divine punishment. Their
doctors made thoughtful accusations about what was causing this deadly pandemic. Those ideas
were bad smells and corrupt air, enemies who may have poisoned the wells, the movements of
the solar system and many others (BCC News). They said it was a retribution for sins against
God such as greed, blasphemy, heresy, fornication, and worldliness (History.com). Some
Europeans focused on a number of groups such as Jews, foreigners, pilgrims, and many more,
thinking that they were the cause of the deadly crisis. Foreigners, and other individuals with skin
diseases such as acne, were pointed out and exterminated, due to suspected symptoms of the
plague, throughout Europe. Perspective treatments were streptomycin; however, this drug is no
longer available. FDA-approved alternatives include tetracycline and doxycycline
(Backgrounder). Antibiotic resistance is rare, but has been reported. Nearly all deadly cases have
been associated with delays in diagnosis and/or treatment.
In the Middle Ages, they had poor medical knowledge. Medieval doctors did not
understand disease, and had limited ability to prevent or cure it. In the 1347 - 1350 outbreaks,
doctors were completely unable to prevent or cure the plague (BCC News). ‘Cures’ for the Black
Death went from absurd, to having a degree of common sense about them. Regardless of this, the
casualty figures for the Black Death were massive (‘Cures’ for the Black Death). During this
time, many began to form very distinct thoughts on how the disease may be cured. They went

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from believing if a person gets the disease, they must be put to bed and washed with vinegar and
rose water. Another was that people should not eat food that goes easily and smells badly such as
meat, cheese and fish and focus on bread, fruit, and vegetables. Others thought those who may
have been affected should be healed thought witchcraft. The particular process would be to place
a live hen next to the swelling to draw out the pestilence and drink a glass of your own urine at
least twice a day (HistoryLearningSite.co.uk).
This deadly virus had a major impact on society and everyone connected through any and
everything. The Black Death affected the way people thought about life in many different ways.
Many people were angry and bitter, and blamed the Church. Some lived wild, immoral lives,
others fell into deep despair, whilst many chose to accept their fate (BBC News). It is mentioned
that people desperate to save themselves even went as far as abandoning their sick and dying
loved ones (History.com). Doctors refused to see patients; priests refused to administer last rites,
and shopkeepers closed stores. It affects more than just people; cows, sheep, goats, pigs, and
chickens as well. Giblin emphasizes that bodies of the dying “lay heaped on top of one another
and half dead creatures could be seen staggering about in the street”, was written from the Greek
historian Thucydides. Thucydides claims, “no one expected to live long enough to be brought to
trail and punished”. Surviving victims were left with terrible scars, in addition, some lost their
eyesight, others their memory.

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Works Cited

"The Black Death: Bubonic Plague." The Black Death: Bubonic Plague. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Jan. 2015.
Benedictow, Ole J. "The Black Death: The Greatest Catastrophe Ever." Editorial. History Today Mar.
2005: n. pag. The Black Death: The Greatest Catastrophe Ever. Web. 31 Jan. 2015.
Giblin, James, and David Frampton. "The Black Death." When Plague Strikes: The Black Death,
Smallpox, AIDS. New York: HarperCollins, 1995. 1-53. Print.
"Plague (Black Death) Causes, Symptoms, Signs, Treatment, History and Diagnosis on
MedicineNet.com." MedicineNet. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Feb. 2015.
"Plague." The New York Times. A.D.A.M, 09 June 2011. Web. 10 Feb. 2015.
http://www.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/plague/overview.html
"Cultural Effects of The Black Plague." Cultural Effects of The Black Plague. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Feb.
2015.
"Plague, Plague Information, Black Death Facts, News, Photos -- National Geographic." National
Geographic. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Feb. 2015.

"Plague Backgrounder." Plague Backgrounder. N.p., 27 Nov. 2006. Web. 21 Feb. 2015.
J. M. Bennett and C. W. Hollister, Medieval Europe: A Short History (New York: McGraw-Hill,
2006), p. 326.
"Jewish History 1340 ­ 1349." Jewish History 1340 ­ 1349. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Feb. 2015.
"Cures for the Black Death." Cures for the Black Death. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Feb. 2015.
"The Black Death." BBC News. BBC, n.d. Web. 23 Feb. 2015.