The plague outbreaks in Europe from the early 15th century to the late 18th century had staggering

impacts on both Europeans and the world around them. Although the plague recurred in brief attacks, as much as 3/4ths of Europe’s population died out due to it. The deaths stirred a wide variety of emotions; however, the effects of the plague caused a chain reaction of responses that mainly cited religion, greedy behavior and exploitation of the weak and rife fear First, as soon as the black spots began forming on one’s body, many theories sprung up as to why the plague broke out spread. One of the pivotal beliefs was God was punishing the Europeans because of their sins, as said by a French doctor (Document 16). Religious fanatics sought penance by flagellation, in hopes God would forgive them and cure them of the plague. Needless to say, the diseased believed that God would also be the answer. Document 7 shows an Italian wife’s husband being cured after eating a piece of bread that touched the body of a saint, showing religion was somehow a factor in the man’s miraculous revival. Although religion was thought to be the cause of the miraculous recoveries, the plague still managed to kill about a third of all German priests, showing that no one was unassailable to it, no matter their beliefs. Priests showed great compassion and respect for the infected, even though the priests seemingly knew death was inevitable, as shown by the last sentence (Document 9). The plague did not hamper belief in God; a portrait was commissioned by Austrian Emperor Leopold for the ending of the plague in order to show gratitude to God (Document 15). The painting illustrates tribute and thanks to God, demonstrated by the Bible passages on the bottom left. Although religion played a large role in the mind set of Europeans during the plague, it was one of the puzzle pieces to the fear and outlandish behavior it caused.

Consequently, the plague caused extreme fear to some, and extreme opportunity to the self seeking for exploitation. The plague did not discriminate- both the rich and poor were infected; however, most of the rich (if not all) were able to flee from the infected areas into isolated areas in the countryside, thus effectively killing more of the poor population (Document 3). Although the poor were stuck in the infected areas, moving to the countryside did not guarantee the safety the wealthy had thought they had. Family and friends were greedy for vast inheritances, often turned to ethically unrighteous ways to get their bequests (Document 4). The plague bought out the extreme worst in people – not only was willfully allowing people to get infected immoral, it also came with punishment due to the fact it was happening so habitually (Document 6). Document 11 shows that nurse would simply help patients die more quickly in order to collect their payment, rather than make an effort and help cure the sick. Document 8 portrays the terror that spread into Europeans often caused them to care for themselves only, rather than others – especially those with families. The alarming rate at which nurses would exploit their patients and parents would give up children to die first, gives us only a small glimpse into the panic and fear the plague caused. Similarly, Europeans were beginning to isolate each other and the rest of the world, due to the widespread terror from the plague. Other countries were unwilling to trade, buy, or travel to Europe (Documents 12 and 14). People were in general fear of each other. Children did not go to school, tons were abandoned, and roads were blocked Documents 1 and 5). Not only were people in hiding, they had consequently shunned daily life and purchases they would usually make, for worry they’d get infected too (Document 13). Presumably, physicians had a difficult time understanding the sudden

influx of the foreign disease, which lead to false cures that often resulted in long drawn out painful deaths (Document 10). Quite a few doctors actually believed that the absurd cures would work, but Document 16 shows few doctors knew or believed there would be an actual cure, altogether adding to the fear and alarm the plague caused. The plague was a masked serial murderer; taking victims by thousands- he was undetected, unavoidable, and unmerciful. All in all, the black plague was one of the worst afflictions to have ever hit Europe, if not the absolute worse. 75% of the population died, but the other 25% went through much more. Europe managed to rebuild and repopulate after, but the effects of the plague were haunting. The world has seen diseases come and go, but the plague remains one of the most appalling and lethal diseases ever recorded. The effects of the black plague caused widespread belief that religion was the cause and cure, resulted in exploitation and greed, and set in panic and fear as never before.