The Wrath of the Black Death

The Wrath of the Black Death

JC Siapno, Journalist


October 1346, You are strolling through the streets in the Late Middle Ages, and you see a man covered in giant buboes. You stare in shock. When you look down, you see smaller buboes on your arms. You are terrified when suddenly, a man with a black coat and a bird-like beak approaches you.


The Black Death is also known as the Black Plague, the Bubonic plague, or the Great Pestilence to the survivors. The Black Plague was brought to Europe by ships. The ships contained rats who had fleas on them. These fleas are what made the plague spread so quickly. They were told to go away, but when they did, it was too late. The rats had already escaped the ships and were wandering around the cities. There is also an airborne version called the Pneumonic Plague. This version infects the lungs, and when somebody coughs or sneezes, they spread the disease even more.



The person with the disease would have fevers of over 40 degrees Celsius or one hundred Fahrenheit. They would have massive headaches, painful aching joints, and swelling. The most notable thing was the buboes. They are swelling buboes that are the result of flea bites. It would appear anywhere, meaning you can’t hide it even if you hid your other symptoms. Some buboes would be as big as an apple. A victim could die from the buboes because of the build-up of dead blood. If it pops, they could still die from toxic shock. The plague kills by cutting off the cell’s ability to communicate with the immune system.


Affected Areas

Some believe that the plague struck Central Asia first, while others believe it struck East Asia first. The plague affected Sicily, Germany, France, Hungary, North Africa, Spain, mainland Italy, Austria, Switzerland, England, and much more. Asia and China were also affected, but Europe was affected the most.


Around seventy-five to two million people were estimated to be killed due to the Black Plague. The plague reduced the world’s population from 470 million people to 350-370 million people. Their bodies were burned to try to keep the infection from spreading. Paris suffered 100,000 deaths or about half of its population. In Florence, Italy, the population was reduced by 110-120 thousand people. The majority of the people in Hamburg and Bremen had died, and Sixty-two thousand people died in London. Germany had over 170,000 settlements, and over forty thousand had died. It is estimated that the Middle East lost a third of its population, and over 40,000 people died.


An Italian Chronicler recorded his experiences: “Father abandoned child, wife, husband, one brother another; for this illness seemed to strike through the breath and sight. And so they died. And none could be found to bury the dead for money or friendship. Members of a household brought their dead to a ditch as best they could, without priest, without divine offices … great pits were dug and piled deep with the multitude of dead. And they died by the hundreds both day and night … And as soon as those ditches were filled more were dug … And I, Agnolo di Tura … buried my five children with my own hands. And there were also those who were so sparsely covered with earth that the dogs dragged them forth and devoured many bodies throughout the city. There was no one who wept for any death, for all awaited death. And so many died that all believed it was the end of the world.


Plague Doctors

The doctors had an overcoat that went down to their ankles. Their mask had bird-like beaks that they put herbs and flowers in because they believed it would protect them from the plague. They had a cane to observe their patients from a safe distance and had glass openings for eyes. However,  some of these doctors were not experienced surgeons, but volunteers, and they would charge the person they were “helping.” The actual doctors did not charge their patients. They risked their lives to help others, though the only thing they could do when it was too late was to inform the family members to remove and burn the body when they eventually passed away.


The plague doctors practiced bloodletting, a form of taking out blood from the veins of a person. The doctors would put frogs or leeches on the buboes to “rebalance the humor.” According to Hippocratic medicine, rebalancing the humor was to make the body healthy. They performed autopsies on their patient to try to find where the Black Death came from previously. Their job was also to keep track of the number of dead victims.



Many laborers died, which led to a shortage of them. The Black Death also led to an increase in wages for manual workers. The increase in wages led to inflation or the rise in prices. Wars were temporarily stopped, and trade suffered. As a result, more people started to pay attention to medicine. Our genes were also affected. Those who survived passed down their genes and made people immune to the Black Death. In 2020, there were cases of people with the plague, but thanks to modern medicine, we won’t have to worry about it becoming widespread.