The inhabitants of London were living in an unbelievable fear for many months. Rumours had it that thousands of people were dying in pain due to an uncurable disease that spread from the Mediterrenean Sea. The hopes of being untouched by the plague became as short-lived as a soap bubble once people started to become infected. One of London’s doctors was examining another person today, whose symptoms resembled the typical signs of the Black Death.
It has been estimated that the plague which haunted Europe in the 14th century resulted in a 30 to 60% drop in the size of the population. It most probably started in Central Asia, as it spread through the trade routes to Crimea, to then cover almost the whole continent at an accelerated speed.
It was all because of one bacterium – Yersinia pestis – which spread through flea on rodents, particularly on rats. There were plenty of them. Everywhere: on trade ships, on the city streets... Humans were usually infected as a result of the flea’s bites.
One can easily guess that the disease was most prominent in the places where hygiene was least observed: where the poorest in society lived. However, in the 14th century, no city was really clean anyway.
The symptoms which the London doctor identified were high fever, cough with bloody secretion, and augmented lymphatic glands. The last manifestation could mean it was a lung plague, which in 90-95% of the cases resulted in death in a few days. The Black Death’s toll resulted in a huge depopulation of cities and towns, which is why there was no way that life could look the same again.
People looked for someone or something that was guilty of the catastrophe. Some blamed the Jews, for example. Others saw it as the God’s punishment. Many believed it was the stars. Setting aside the deaths and fears of so many people, the Black Death caused some positive changes to happen in cities and towns:
1. The shortage of labour resulted in migration of peasants to cities;
2. Due to small village population, serfdom and the duty of peasants to work only on their owners’ land were abandoned;
3. Thanks to the increasing merges of land on which few people still worked, the efficiency of farming improved;
4. Peasants began to look for new sources of income, such as sheep and cattle breeding, on a larger scale.
To sum up, it looks like someone should create a monument for all those rats that contributed to the development of the human civilization, almost as great as the discovery of steam engine.
I can help you visit beautiful villages of England from that period of time. I can show you where to find houses covered with thatched roofs, medieval mansions, but also examples of historical monuments related to the Industrial Revolution in Great Britain and other countries of Europe.
See more post
If a maritime catastrophe expert was asked about an example of one of the most interesting stories, he would probably mention the case of Vasa. In 1961, this very warship was taken out of the sea to be examined by scientists. It is known for being the most expensive and the most decorated ship in the 17th century’s Sweden. The ship that, after sailing 1,300 metres, sunk in the harbour of Stockholm. This embarrassing distance unfortunately did not live up to the expectations people had of Vasa, which was supposed to outshine all the military units on the Baltic Sea at that time.
The engineering talent of aqueduct builders from ancient Rome has always astounded me. During those times, the majority of people were happy to use the water from rivers and wells, while building aqueducts, which were supposed to provide water for enormous Roman cities, was a true challenge. Water pipes had not been yet invented, so water had to be coming down. But what if the water source was many kilometers away?