The Black Death

The Black Death I was reading Bill Bryson s book, Neither Here Nor There Travels in Europe, and he was reading The Black Death by Philip Ziegler and commenting on it, so I thought maybe he had the better idea, so I got this free book on kindle and began reading it instead.I have heard about the black plague since my teenage years or was it in college I remember once being mesmerized by a college professor s speech on the subject Even he was mesmerized by it since his class wasn t Black Plague 101 It could have been the English class where we had to read Camus book The Plague I remember his telling us that it could happen again Well, it has in a small way, because last year there were 14 cases in the U.S with 4 people dying, and every year we have a few cases of it Not much to worry about.Bill Bryson talked about something I had never heard about Back in the 1300s Italy had rain for over 6 months, flooding the land by turning it into swamps, killing crops, causing famine, disease, death and later earthquakes, and then right after that the black plague Sounds like the end times, and yes, people thought just that They believed that people were dying due to their sins, and that after they died God would send them to a burning hell I didn t realize that God believed in double jeopardy, but they did They even blamed the Jews for poisoning them because the Jews lived in ghettos and didn t contact it They could just as easily have thought that the Jews were favored by God, but no, instead they began killing the Jews, actually wiping them out in large numbers People are often as scary, if not so, than the diseases that are contacted They are just as scary today because when AIDS showed up it was because, again, God was punishing the sinners, who would then die and go to hell And some gays and lesbians have been murdered just like the Jews during the plague These murders went up 11 percent in 2014 But AIDS isn t the only modern disease that has been attributed to God s punishment Ebola, for example, is another one.I was surprised to learn how many times in history the black plague has shown up, and that the first time it caused between 75 to 100 million deaths This was painfully scary to the people dying back then, and the world came to a stop for those 4 years or so I remember after my professor brought the subject up I would see rats in San Francisco and realize that one could get bitten by a flea carrying the disease and then pass it on And actually back in the early 1900s S.F did have the plague due to the rats some that came over here on ships They just love crawling up those mooring lines Also, you don t want to know how many sewer rats they have in S.F or in other cities, and now the drought and even constructions work is stirring them up in San Francisvo Like my professor said, We need cats Now if you want to know what this character below has to do with the black death, you have to read this book The Black Death Sweeping Across The Known World With Unchecked Devastation, The Black Death Claimed Between Million And Million Lives In Four Short Years In This Engaging And Well Researched Book, The Trajectory Of The Plague S March West Across Eurasia And The Cause Of The Great Pandemic Is Thoroughly Explored Inside You Will Read About What Was The Black Death A Short History Of Pandemics Chronology Trajectory Causes Pathology Medieval Theories Disease Control Black Death In Medieval Culture Consequences Fascinating Insights Into The Medieval Mind S Perception Of The Disease And Examinations Of Contemporary Accounts Give A Complete Picture Of What The World S Most Effective Killer Meant To Medieval Society In Particular And Humanity In General If you re looking for some serious history book about The Black Death, this is book isn t it However, if you re looking for some cursory, yet really interesting, information with no real references to the sources, then this is it I liked it for it gave some really interesting facts about The Black Death back in the 1300s how it spread and how it was perceived, but I really, really would ve loved to see some references at the end of the book because the way it is in its current state may just as well be something the author came up with all by himself. Wasn t quite sure how to rate this, but I think I ll go with 3.5 stars It s a small book, but it does a decent job of covering the plague of the mid 1300s It s not long, but a longer book on this particular subject would just be depressing, so I guess I don t have complaints with the length and I knew it was short when I downloaded it to my kindle I learned a few new things, especially in regards to the plague s impact on society Overall, the writing and organization were good I wish he would have referred to Constantinople as Constantinople instead of Istanbul it was still Constantinople back then A good choice for someone who wants to spend an hour on the subject and get something better than what an internet search would provide. The facts and figures of the black death was mind blowing The sheer volume of humanity wiped out by this terrible disease was anything from 75 million to 200 million which is a vague figure, but records show they couldn t keep up with the body count A quick, informative read, covering all aspects of the many different strains of the plague Written concisely, with plenty of gruesome information to make this a truly revolting historical read.I shall read by Henry Freeman on the many other subjects that catch my eye, just to learn about the basics without too much information overload. A nice little book covering the major points of the Black Death It serves as a nice introduction to the various topics covered. An interesting book because it brings together a lot of information that is generally scattered around and it updates that information at all levels, particularly the medical level.If the first chapters sound very technical and factual, the author reaches later on the cultural level and that is essential The Black Death was a traumatic experience for the world and particularly for Europe, or it is rather better known for Europe.The trauma can be explained easily Let s say the European population went down 50% in about ten years I lengthen the period slightly because it did not disappear as fast as it appeared It took three years to reach the whole of Europe and then five to eight years to ease out not completely but mostly If you consider the lowering of the population to be 50% you have to add to this the births one child per woman every 18 months or so from which you could subtract the normal infantile death rate which was enormous, about 50% within the first six or eight years of a child s life That means that over ten years the death toll of the Black Death was a lot important than 50% and probably closer to 75% of the potential population that should have been reached ten years after the arrival of this Black Death.The only records we have for the population are church records Priests died just like anyone else As soon as the priest was dead the various christening, marriage and burial registers could not be held any We would have to wait for a new priest to arrive in the parish.We have to take into account the fact that the epidemic spread in rural areas along different ways than those in urban areas The Middles Ages were a time of a great improvement of agriculture, proto industry, food and social conditions the religious reform of the 10th century that brought 52 Sundays and about 25 days of no work at all nearly 80 days of non working time a year The result was a tremendous demographic expansion that reached its limits in the last third of the 13th century and then overpopulation in rural areas caused some younger ones to just become vagrant people moving to cities or moving around in rural areas and becoming thieves of some kind That s long before the Black Death But the Black Death will be spread in rural areas by these vagrants and of course by the numerous markets in cities that attracted the rural producers who went back to their rural areas after market day with the disease We do not know when the markets were closed down, if ever because the cities had to get food from the rural areas in a time when supermarkets did not exist.A last element has to be added The monasteries are essential for religious and cultural reasons The monks have duties towards the outside population and towards the beggars and travelers The beggars and travelers were bringing in the disease, whereas the monks going out to take care of the living and the dead outside brought the disease back inside That explains for example that the Abbey Church of La Chaise Dieu built by Clement VI, the Jew friendly pope suoted by this book and who was a monk in this abbey before becoming the Pope, contains a Danse Macabre of great fame We are here in a rural and mountainous area and that area was touched by the Black Death drastically In rural areas it is not rare that a whole village be erased from the map and when in any village the priest died high risk since the priests were taking care of the dying at least at first and maybe longer prudence would justify there was no religious connection and recording of anything, explaining why we cannot have figures We may have the figures up to the death of the priest and then we have to wait for the arrival of a new priest eventually several years later to catch up haphazardly on the blank spot Two ideas are slightly surprising Vernacular languages did not start being used at the time or after the Black Death Vernacular languages had been commonly used for at least three centuries by minstrels, Meisters nger, troubadours, trouveres and many others of this poets singers profession who went around from one castle to the next, from one market place to the next, from one fair to the next to recite the poetry they had composed or they had learned by heart from other colleagues whose apprentices they were because there were no books, not even one bible in every church because there was no printing press Literature, poetry was essentially oral and orally transmitted and distributed in the vernacular languages One famous example is of course the Welsh triads and the story of Tristan and Iseult coming from these triads down into Cornwall and then into French Brittany to be recorded in the 12th century in French and later to be translanted into Old Norse and German in the 13th century , the French of the time spoken among the Norman nobility and population that had taken over England in Hastings 1066 All that is long before the Black Death What is original about Chaucer is that he wrote or composed his poetry in Middle English which was no longer the French of the older times but the new language of the elite, the court, the nobility and the socially superior classes Note we must have three copies all of them with serious variations of the original Canterbury Tales and they were popular because Chaucer himself went around to recite them from memory of course Very often these readings were accompanied by music on some kind of lute or harp, at times a pipe See for that the sculptures known as the musician angels of the Abbey Church of La Chaise Dieu, once again of Clement VI.Another surprising element is the connection between the Black Death and the Renaissance The Renaissance would not have been possible without a deep reflection on life and death , on cultural matters that took place during and after the Black Death period that has to be seen as longer than four years This evolution and the dire need of a whole new generation of educated people to replace the dead in all managerial and administrative positions made it urgent to enter some mass education for a new enlarged elite This is the evolution that brings up one invention without which the Renaissance is not possible the printing press 1450 which made universities possible with books, which brought the Reformation and it is this boiling pot of needs, wants and desires that brought the Quattro Cento that includes late Gothic art and culture and the first phase of the Renaissance and the Renaissance itself But the Renaissance is still a feudal period economically and socially The ownership of the land is still feudal and it will take several centuries to get that feudal system out, first England starting with Henry VIII, though very limited as for anti feudal reforms, and then the Stuarts, Cromwell and the Glorious Revolution then France in 1789 and Germany and Italy in the 19th century, not to speak of Russia Voltaire still defended before the French Revolution that no subject of a modern king, like the French one for instance, the one he called my king , was supposed to refuse obeying the king s orders and could not ask in any way for the king to be removed, let alone be beheaded Charles I of England is not far from his own consciousness That is pure political feudalism Though it is true Leibnitz is slightly advanced but check the English Bill of Rights and it states freedom of speech only for the members of parliament and within the normal locales for the various parliamentarian and electoral activities of MPs, the latter concerning at the very most 5% of the population That is not exactly a non feudal democracy, is it But this short book could be very useful as an introduction to the historical reflection on the impact of a pandemic on human society.Dr Jacques COULARDEAU This book tells the very basics about the bubonic plague This book was very short Although the bubonic plague occurred in the 14th century, there are still a number of facts that can be reported This book does a good job of reporting those facts. La Black Death o Mors Nigra a que se refiere este estudio es la mism sima que conocemos como Peste Bub nica Esta se dio en varias pocas de la historia, pero la m s mort fera fue la de 1348 a 1352.La primera oleada se dio en el a o 542 en el Imperio Bizantino de Justiniano, y se cree que murieron por esta causa unos 25 millones de personas.Se dice que la peste se esparci de tierra firme asi tica v a Europa, por medio de barcos que recorr an las rutas comerciales del Mediterr neo As llegaron a Italia y Grecia yendo al oeste y a Asia Menor por el este La segunda oleada, se piensa que tuvo su origen en el Asia Central, espec ficamente en Mongolia y China del oeste Los ratones infectados por las pulgas, eran originarios del Kurdistan y de la India del norte, que llegaron a Mongolia y causaron una epidemia mortal una d cada antes de su llegada a Europa Por el Camino de la Seda lleg al puerto de Haffa en Crimea y de ah a los barcos genoveses que hab an instalado en ese puerto un centro de transferencia de mercanc as El primer sitio en donde se dio la peste fue en Pisa, Italia En 1348 lleg a Francia, de ah a Espa a y Portugal De este ltimo paso a Inglaterra, y sta la pas a Alemania en 1349 ya estaba en Noruega Islandia y Rusia recibieron la peste en 1351 Por Sicilia pas a Egipto, a la Meca, Mosul y Bagdad en 1349.La investigaci n moderna nos cuenta que la Peste Bub nica ten a 2 tipos de Y pestis una que entr a Europa por Marsella, y la otra, lleg por los Pa ses Bajos Bocaccio describe en El Decamer n los s ntomas la peste produce una muerte horrible y grotesca Un gavocciolo era un tumor purulento, tambi n conocido como buba , de ah el t rmino de Peste Bub nica Una vez aparecidas las bubas, muchos sufr an fiebre aguda, v mitos de sangre y mor an a los 7 d as.Se cree digo se cree porque en ese tiempo no exist an registros cre bles y completos, los m dicos que llevaban las cuentas tambi n mor an ,que debido a esta pandemia se causaron m s muertes que en todas las guerras, incluidas las mundiales del siglo XX De una poblaci n de 450 millones de europeos, sobrevivieron s lo 350 millones. This was a very short history about the Black Plague in the Middle Ages I knew it was going to be short, but I was still disappointed because most of these writers of short histories are not great writers anywaybut Freeman was pretty good, and I liked the research he did Several of my favorite science writers, especially in medical science have diedso I m always on the outlook for someone new in this are who is not only capable of the research necessary to make the book interesting, but also a good writer So it bugs me a little that I found one who writes very short histories in this area.SighI learned some new things in this history about the plague that I didn t know That s definitely something I want in these books Good information on some of the possible medical theories still out there on exactly what this plague was, because the current bubonic plague doesn t have what is known as the kill rate that the bubonic plague had in the Middle ages I highly recommend this book if someone wants a quick understanding of the plague Now I have to go find another in depth book on it because my curiosity has been aroused.

Henry Freeman is an author and archaeologist He has a passion for history and loves to travel the world exploring various historical sites.Henry graduated from the University of Cambridge with a double major in History and Archaeology and shortly after that started his career as an archaeologist.After traveling the world getting first hand experience with history, Henry was determined to take up

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  • Kindle Edition
  • 45 pages
  • The Black Death
  • Henry Freeman
  • English
  • 05 September 2017

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