Black Death originated from rodents flees in China, commonly referred to as the “Great Pestilence”. From thereon it spread to the west, through the silk trade route. Black Death killed millions in China, Persia, India, and Egypt. It is claimed that the Mongolian army may have thrown infested corpse over the walls of Caffa in an effort to harm the citizens. Italian traders from Genoa returned home in 1937 with the infection thus spreading it to Europe. Thereon, the disease spread to Spain, France, Portugal, Russia, Germany and the Scandinavia. In Europe, Black plague occurred in the period between 1347 and 1352. Black plague killed about one-third of Europeans population almost 20 million people due to a painful and highly contagious disease. In Europe’s cities millions died, in fact, the number of deaths was higher than the buriers.
Black Death caused a great devastation into the towns, families, religious institutions and the community. Altogether, the black plague was a combination of pneumonia, bubonic and septicemic plague strains. Bubonic plague is spread by rats that have been bitten by the flea. Bubonic plague is hardly contagious and death occurs weeks after initial infections. However, pneumonic plagues are highly contagious with very high mortality rates. Europe was not at all prepared to handle black plague when it hit its towns. As a matter of fact, their lifestyle compounded to the rise of the plague. For instance, Europe had no garbage collection points, trash was littered all over the streets. Cities had no taps and the people rarely bathed or cleaned their clothes. It is estimated that the plague hit Europe at a time when the economy was relatively doing well and the population was very high at about 75 million. But, come the end of 1351, it is estimated that almost 30 million people had died of the plague.
During this time, profound economic changes occurred. As is expected worldwide trade slowed down, wars in Europe were also halted. People died abandoning their farms and estate, others bequeathed property from the dead. There were severe shortages of labor that resulted in serfs or peasants demanding for better working conditions and higher wages from their landlords. In part, this contributed to rising of capitalism. In fact, in following years many surf moved to cities advancing the growth of industrialization and urbanization. Moreover, labor shortages resulted in a shift from grain farming to animal husbandry since animal husbandry only required a shepherd unlike the latter. The black plague also enhanced labor-saving efficiencies that resulted in increased productivity.
Medieval society could not point out to what caused black plague or how it spread. Many people pinned the blame on God, others on the Jews and others on astrological misfortunes. Hundreds of Jews were murdered following accusations of poisoning water wells. Jews were scapegoats since they experienced few deaths probably because of their hygienic practices. Literature; art and music of this time were largely gloomy and gruesome. People developed mistrust in the Catholic Church because it failed to explain the cause of the black plague. Although church land and buildings were unaffected, there were only a handful of priests that were left. As a result, the church quickened the training process creating new opportunities for clergymen to assume extensive roles in parishes. The black plague had elapsed come early 1350, but to date, the plague emerges from time to time. Currently, black plague can be mitigated by public health practices and modern sanitation. Altogether, advancements in medicine have been able to mitigate the disease but not fully eliminate it.