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The Black Death 1347 - 1350
The Black Death was one of the worst natural disasters in history. In 1347 A.D., a great plague swept over Europe, ravaged cities causing widespread hysteria and death. One third of the population of Europe died. "The impact upon the future of England was greater than upon any other European country." (Cartwright, 1991) The primary culprits in transmitting this disease were oriental rat fleas carried on the back of black rats.
The efforts to stop them:
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.
Cities were hardest hit and tried to take measures to control an epidemic no one understood. In Milan, to take one of the most successful examples, city officials immediately walled up houses found to have the plague, isolating the healthy in them along with the sick. Venice took sophisticated and stringent quarantine and health measures, including isolating all incoming ships on a separate island. But people died anyway, though fewer in Milan and Venice than in cities that took no such measures. Pope Clement VI, living at Avignon, sat between two large fires to breath pure air. The plague bacillus actually is destroyed by heat, so this was one of the few truly effective measures taken.
In 1350, the Black Death was declared to be stop by the goverment that use full power to stop it.