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In this world weve seen many forms of death. From natural disasters of unfathomable and devastating proportions to war which shed the untainted blood of soldiers and civilians alike, our mass killings have all been delivered by visibly enormous forces, which have consumed and gratified their lust for life before our very eyes. This was true until the introduction of a killer so small and intangible it left almost an entire nations skeptic and dying, searching for the answers in the heavens and in god. This minute killer was known as the Black Death. This terrible epidemic exhausted small towns across Europe, including the British Isles, brutally killing an incredible amount of people. The disease had wiped out entire villages leaving dead bodies to decompose within the gutters of streets and corners of allies (Ziegler 17).
Though people were introduced to the seriousness of the plague, they were still puzzled as to the causes of the deadly disease. Because of this fact, a group of unconfirmed myths and questionable facts rose concerning the sources of the epidemic for over five centuries (Coulton 493). In the nineteenth century, the causes of the terrifying disease was discovered and the Black Death was no longer unknown. One myth, of the origin of the deadly plague was said to be a result of medieval gas warfare. Yet another myth, stated that the murderous disease was an aftereffect of a great earthquake that occurred in Europe.
Scientists even believed that the epidemic was caused by heaps of unburned corpses left in churchyards (Beatty and Marks 80). The last proven cause of the plague was found to be a disease of rats and other related animals (Rowling 186). One of the myths as to the cause of the Black Plague is an unusual story that was formed by peoples imaginations. One of the possible sources of the epidemic supposedly was born in a terrible war that had occurred between the deadly waters of the Indian Ocean and the sun (Ziegler 14). The immense waters of the dangerous blue ocean were lifted up like a solid wall of concrete to fight the sun. As the wall stood in the middle of the air still touching the base of the water, dangerous vapors began to disperse from the water.
The high winds speeded the poisonous fumes out in every direction (Ziegler 14). The plague reached the nearby lands and the epidemic began to take it's first incredibly unfortunate victims. This myth arose from small villages as people spread rumor after rumor from the stories they had once heard as to the unexplainable causes of the plague. Though this tale is entirely fictional, people were still mystified because of the secrecy as to the causes that they would believe any explanation that there was about the deadly plague. Paolilli 3 Another myth, to the beginning of the deadly virus, is it rose from poisonous fumes as a direct result of earthquakes that occurred during the Medieval times. It was said that a incredible amount of pressure had been building up underneath the Earth for several years (Ziegler 21).
Poisonous gases then began to stir amongst each other. Then terrible earthquakes had rocked Europe and the poisonous fumes, that were once underneath several layers of earth, were now being released through cracks into the atmosphere. This killer cloud streamed across Europe and killed each individual who it met (Ziegler 21). Next, it was stated that the epidemic was caused by layers upon layers of unburned corpses that were left in churchyards (Beatty and Marks 81). A man named Galen had stated, The infection arose from 'Inspiration of air infected with a putrid exhalation. The beginning of the putrescence may be a multitude of unburned corpses, as may happen in war; or the exhalations of marshes and ponds in the summer (Ziegler 22).
A Dr. Creighton also supported the findings that the plague had originated within the piles of dead corpses that were left unburied. He stated that specific incidents that would explain the large amount of people left dead are directly related to the tragedies that had struck China (Ziegler 24). He also concluded that, the possible reason why there was such a high death rate among church personal is the dead were buried in churchyards where the priests and monks lived close to.
The church related people had obtained cadaver poisoning from the enormous amount of dead bodies and diseases that lied within the corpses. Finally, the real truth to the origin of the Black Plague was found mainly to be a plague of rats and other small-related animals (Rowling 186). This theory somewhat agrees with the previous idea of the beginning of the epidemic being found in the mounds of dead bodies, and also the incredibly high death rate that was cradled in Central Asia between 1338 and 1339 (Beatty and Marks 72). The origin of the plague began when a bacteria known as Pasteurella Pestis, which formed itself within the piles of dead corpses, had found it's home either in the bloodstream of an animal or the stomach of a flea (Ziegler 25). During the time of the deaths in 1338 and 1339 in Central Asia, near Lake Issue-Kong, the rat was in great abundance and in turn, so were the fleas (Beatty and Marks 72). The fleas carried this deadly virus within their bloodstream (Coulton 493).
They would attack countless numbers of rats by protruding their skin and transferring the epidemic into the rats body (Rowling 186). Then a "massive exodus" (Ziegler 26) took place where the carrier of the disease, the black rat, made a tremendous move to a different various parts of Europe, including the British Isles, for a reason that is still a mystery. The Plague Research Commission of 1910 commented' the transference of infected rats and fleas in merchandise or, in the case of fleas, on the body of a human being is a possible cause of the spread of the deadly virus (Ziegler 27). So basically, people had received the disease from rats poisoning a persons food and living within their homes.
It was incredible easy for a person to become infected with the disease. The disease continuously dispersed itself across the continent of Europe by repeating this process continuously (Rowling 188). In conclusion, the Black Death became known as one of the most mysterious and deadliest plagues to ever touch our world. In medieval Europe, during this time, the epidemic drastically decreased the population in Europe leaving only a sparse number of people to remain (Rowling 188). It had terrified the hearts of every person in Europe to know that an unexplainable disease, of that magnitude, was out there.
The once positive outlook people had on the life of the thirteenth century had perished along with the many lives the plague took along with it (Rowling 188). The mystery of the causes of the plague took over five centuries to uncover. Several unjustifiable phenomenon and myths were devised during this period concerning the causes of this disease. To this day, people still find it mind shattering to believe the magnitude the disease had upon an entire continent and the number of deaths it had caused. Bibliography Beatty, William K. , and Geoffrey Marks.
Epidemics. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1976. Coulton, G. G. Medieval Panorama: The English Scene From Conquest to Reformation.
New York: W. W. Norton and Company Inc. , 1974. Rowling, Major. Everyday life in Medieval Times. New York: Dorset Press, 1968.
Ziegler, Philip. The Black Death. New York: Harper and Row Publishers, 1969.
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