The bubonic plague is an infection of the lymphatic system, usually resulting from the bite of an infected flea, Xenopsylla cheopis (the rat flea). The fleas are often found on rodents, such as rats and mice, and seek out other prey when their rodent hosts die. The bacteria form aggregates in the gut of infected fleas and this results in the flea regurgitating ingested blood, which is now infected, into the bite site of a rodent or human host. Once established, bacteria rapidly spread to the lymph nodes and multiply. Y. pestis bacilli can resist phagocytosis and even reproduce inside phagocytes and kill them. As the disease progresses, the lymph nodes can haemorrhage and become swollen and necrotic. Bubonic plague can progress to lethal septicemic plague in some cases. The plague is also known to spread to the lungs and become the disease known as the pneumonic plague. This form of the disease is highly infectious as the bacteria can be transmitted in droplets emitted when coughing or sneezing.
The three forms of the Black Death were transmitted two ways. The septicemic and bubonic plague were transmitted with direct contact with a flea, while the pneumonic plague was transmitted through airborne droplets of saliva coughed up by bubonic or septicemic infected humans.
Where did the plague arrive from?
The deadly disease has claimed nearly 200 million lives (although there is some debate as to whether all of the plagues attributed to it are in fact the same disease). The first recorded epidemic ravaged the Byzantine Empire during the sixth century, and was named the Plague of Justinian after emperor Justinian I, who was infected but survived through extensive treatment.
Effort to stop the Plague
Although the government had medical workers try to prevent the plague, the plague persisted. Most medical workers quit and journeyed away because they feared getting the plague themselves."When the government acts to prevent or control a calamity, but the calamity persists, people turn to cures. Many believed that the disease was transmitted upon the air, probably because the smell from the dead and dying was so awful. So, the living turned to scents to ward off the deadly vapors. People burned all manner of incense: juniper, laurel, pine, beech, lemon leaves, rosemary, camphor and sulfur. Others had handkerchiefs dipped in aromatic oils, to cover their faces when going out. Another remedy was the cure of sound. Towns rang church bells to drive the plague away, for the ringing of town bells was done in crises of all kinds. Other towns fired cannons, which was new and made a comfortingly loud ding. There were no ends to talismans, charms, and spells that could be purchased from the local wise woman or apothecary. Many people knew of someone's friend or cousin who had drank elderberry every day, or who had worn a jade necklace, and who had survived the dreaded disease."
Changes in the economic
The economy was probably hit the hardest of all the aspects of Europe. The biggest problem was that valuable artisan skills disappeared when large numbers of the working class died. Therefore,those who had skills became even more valuable than the rich people. The society structure began to change giving formally poor laborers more say. The peasants and artisans demanded higher wages. Serfs seeking liberation from tilling their lord's land were told by decree and statue to return to their master's duties. The poor people saw so much death they wanted to enjoy life. Serfs began to leave their land and not engage in the planting of crops. Unattended crops and stray animals died of starvation because of the lack of care. Several domesticated animals began to roam the forest. Farming communities became rare. The lack of sufficient law enforcement personnel promoted lawlessness. People called "Bechini" pillaged homes, murdering and raping people. They dressed in red robes with red masks and only their eyes showed. The horror of the Black Death had taken on a new victim, the economy.
Effect on the
It affected Europe's population and also its economy. Changes in the size of civilization led to changes in trade, the church, music and art, and many other things.
The Black Death killed off a massive portion of Europe's population. The plague is more effective when it attacks weakened people and Europe at the time was already weakened by exhaustion of the soil due to poor farming, the introduction of more sheep which reduced the land available for corn, and persistent Scottish invasions.