Black Death

The bubonic plague is a deadly pandemic whose incidence and prevalence was unusually high between 1347 and 1351. Also called the Black Death, the plague hit the borders of England in the year 1348. Medieval science could not appropriately justify the origin of the deadly ailment, as the miasma theory then claimed that it was due to the insatiability of the heavenly bodies that the disease emerged. The pandemic is said to have originated from continental Asia, in China, and was transmitted via the trade routes to later reach the British Isles. Yersinia pestis is the scientifically proven causative bacterium of the Black Death plague, while the oriental rat fleas and the rats are the primary vectors and the reservoir host respectively. The plague did not only have significant impact on all the social, cultural, economic, and political levels of medieval societies but also contributed to the destruction of social distinction.

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The European history was significantly influenced by the bubonic plague, as all the segments of politics, economics, culture, and religion were hit by terrible upheavals. The disease was one of a fatal ailments man has ever faced, especially in the continental Europe and England, as it claimed an estimation of between 30 to 60 percent of the population then. The population of the world was approximated at 450 million, and bubonic plague caused deaths that left the population at an average of 360 million inhabitants. The impact was high, such Europe and England took between one and a half to two and a half centuries to recover. On the other hand, the survivors experienced a changed social-political and economic environment. The reduced human population led to the considerable reduction in human labor in the workforce. The high demand for laborers resulted in the escalation of wages. The peasants who survived the plague realized a boom in their lifestyles, as the income rates had increased above the average ranges. Specifically, in England, the otherwise not materially affluent families and individuals amassed wealth, an incident that could later be described as The Golden Age of Prosperity. New opportunities were abundant, serfdom was abolished, wages escalated, and the land was abundantly available.

The plague acted as a strong force that helped in the destruction of social distinction. Both Western Europe and England were the severely hit regions by the Black Death. Consequently, the surviving peasants gained recognition and their social rank got elevated beyond the normal social bonds of prejudice and classism. Both feudalism and traditional holdings could not be recovered after the plague. The ability to seek new opportunities in life and lead fulfilling lifestyles for a majority of the surviving populations was real. The greatest beneficiaries of the time were the young men and women, who would later emerge as social icons in the social-political arena, in their adulthood. Therefore, Black Death plague played a central role in ending the social norms of distinction.

The after death soul care played a significant role in influencing the attitudes of people toward the plague. About the six or so generations that witnessed the effects of Black Death derived a profound change of attitude toward the bubonic plague. The value of life was diminished, and how people valued themselves and their spirituality changed. Pietism became evident, the church could no longer be appreciated as divine, and the human social classes lost value. Furthermore, religion lost its central position among the respective communities afflicted. The linguistic characteristics of the people also changed, for instance, Latin was no more appreciated as the primary language, and rather, other national dialects were embraced.



Joseph Hinnebusch, B., Clayton O. Jarrett, Julie A. Callison, Donald Gardner, Susan K. Buchanan, and Gregory V. Plano. “Role of the Yersinia Pestis Ail Protein in Preventing a Protective Polymorphonuclear Leukocyte Response during Bubonic Plague.” Infection and Immunity 79, no. 12 (2011): 4984–89. doi:10.1128/IAI.05307-11.

Platt, Colin. “King Death: The Black Death And Its Aftermath In Late-Medieval England.” Routledge, 2014.

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