- The Black Death was one of the deadliest pandemics in human history.
- Peaked in Europe from 1348-1350.
- Believed to be caused by an outbreak of bubonic plague spread by fleas from rats.
- The origin of the Black Death appears to have been in Central Asia with it probably travelling through to the Crimea by around 1346.
- It is postulated that merchant ships then spread the plague throughout Europe, Northern Africa and the Mediterranean.
- Estimated to have killed 30% to 60% of Europe's population.
- Believed to have created a number of social, economic and religious upheavals.
- It was a serious threat to the power of the Catholic Church.
- Minorities were often persecuted or scapegoated as contributors to the cause of the black death.
- Because of the high risks of death - the plague years were associated with a morbid pessimistic mood amongst the population.
- Bubonic plague returned on several occasions in Europe until the 19th century.
- The practice of alchemy, as medicine, began to wane as people realized that the epidemic was not affected by the actions of alchemists (in some circumstances they actually made things worse).
- Alchemists were the original makers of distilled spirits, and these were often used as a remedy with the consequence that alcohol consumption escalated (with all the social consequences of that).
- More emphasis was placed on anatomical investigations following the Black Death.
- The importance of surgeons was also enhanced following this plague epidemic, particularly as a result of the writings of Guy de Chauliac from Avignon in France.
- Plague doctor duties often were limited to visiting plague victims to ascertain whether they had been afflicted or not.
- Often very well compensated financially for the risks they took.
- Most plague doctors were layperson volunteers as qualified doctors had often fled knowing they could do nothing.
- Considered one of the first examples of protective clothing for hazardous materials.
- Consisted of wide-brimmed black hat (signified that the person was a doctor).
- The wide brim of the hat may have given some partial shielding from the plague infection
- Bird's beak shaped face mask (plague mask) - acting like a primitive gas mask, and containing red glass eye pieces (possibly to protect from the 'evil eye').
- The beak of the plague mask usually contained strongly aromatic herbs and spices which may have been designed to combat the bad air and reduce the smell of the stench from rotting corpses and sick patients.
- Long black coat which was tucked behind the beak face mask, extended from the feet and designed to reduce the amount of skin exposed to the minimum.
- The coat was often coated in a wax or similar material which may have helped reduce body fluids from sticking to it.
- Leather breeches similar to the modern-day waders used by fishermen helped protect from exposure to possible contagions.
- Wooden cane to point with and also enable a rudimentary examination at a distance.
Notable plague outbreaks:
- Italian Plague of 1629–1631
- Great Plague of Seville (1647–1652)
- Great Plague of London (1665–1666)
- Great Plague of Vienna (1679)
- Great Plague of Marseille in 1720–1722
- Great Plague of 1738 (Eastern Europe)
- Russian plague (1770-1772)
- The Black Death: History's Turning Points (Documentary)
- The Plague (Bubonic Plague, Yersinia pestis)
- Professor Malcolm Casadaban (1949-2009, RIP)
- Plague Mask
- Plague Doctor (Medical History)
- Black Death (Bubonic Plague)
- Bubonic Plague Famous Deaths
- The Real Mary Kings Close (Edinburgh)
- Black Death (Bubonic Plague) Spread in Europe 1347-1351
Photocredit -flickr jaggitha (cc)
Posted by ALCHEssMIST.
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