Plague refers to a disease spread by fleas which are infected by their hosts, in most cases rats. The fleas used to change host especially after the death of the rat, and the next host they preferred may have been human being. During that process, they infected humans.
Plague was first experienced in Europe in the mid of the fourteenth century when the first wave of the infection killed about twenty five million people. The infection continued spreading throughout Europe in the eighteenth century, and at that time the cause of the bacterial infection had not been ascertained yet. Upon infection, an individual experienced severe pain, and in a few days eighty percent of the infected people succumbed to death.
In one school, the plague killed twenty boys almost simultaneously. This caused other students to stay away from school as they opted not to attend it (Schoolmaster 1484). Considering the case in England, the plague was caused by filth in the streets and the sputum and dog’s urine which clogged the rushes on the floor of houses (Erasmus 1512).
The rich in the society managed to flee from the country, and as a result, the poor were the ones who were left vulnerable to the disease. This also happened in Paris where only a few porters and wage earners who resided there were left (Versoris 1523).
Johann Weyer wrote in his The Deceptions of Demons in 1583 that individuals also spread the deadly plague by smearing the gates to the city of Casale in Western Lombardy with a certain ointment that caused the disease. Thus, everyone who touched those gates was infected, and as a result died.
Unfortunately, the heirs of the deceased are the ones who made payments for the gates to be smeared so that they would have obtained a quick inheritance. This was the case at Casale where it was reported that people got infected by simply touching the gates (Weyer 1583).
Each and every household which was affected by the pestilence was immediately quarantined, and in the event of that person’s death in a specific place, the one had to be buried in that particular place. Furthermore, many people died because of hunger since the roads were under heavy guard to ensure that no infected individuals travelled from one place to another. (Staden 1571)
Gold was used to meet the expense of pest houses so as to quarantine the infected while gallows were used to punish the violators of health regulations. In addition, the gallows were also used to frighten other people, and bonfires were used to eliminate the infected (Motto 1576). A particular woman whose husband had a fever was sure he would have died, but he was miraculously healed. He was fed by a piece of bread that had touched St. Domenica’s body. The bread was sent to him by Angelica. (Centennni 1624).
An individual really thought a lot about what would have happened in the event their household would have been invaded by the plagues. It was a tough time as everyone wondered who they would lose first to the disease, the daughter first or the son. It also happened that after the son had died, the daughter followed, and eventually the individual died as well.
Even in the season of severity, an individual would still have compassion and be charitable. Convalescents and servants of two pest houses were fed by a particular individual who also paid guards and gravediggers with alms sent to him/her by the lordships (Dragoni 1630).
The infected patients hung toads on their neckline so that their venom would draw out the poison of the disease within a few days (Roachas 1647). In Barcelona, there was a high demand for nurses who although called to serve neglected the patients in many instances and made them die quickly so that they could collect the agreed fee (Parets 1651). News was received that in Rome Italy it was now violent. People opted to refrain but four individuals opted to believe in providence rather than not see a fine place (Reresby 1656).
People feared to buy wigs with the assumption that the wings were obtained from the heads of people who died of the plague (Pepys 1665). The European nations including France, Holland, Spain and Italy prohibited ships from England. As a consequence, foreign trade and manufacture of goods declined causing a stoppage (Defoe 1665). The plague was believed to be a punishment from the gods due to the sins of the people and remedies were not considered to be available like in the case of ordinary maladies (Bertrand 1720).
The events happened from the fifteenth to the eighteenth century affected the whole of Europe (Clark & Rawcliffe 2013). Many people lost their lives as a result of being infected by the plague, and in general the society became inhumane (Crawshaw 2012). People stopped caring for each other and valued money more than human life. This period was one of the darkest periods in European history, and also one of the events that later led to intensive research in medicine until a cure was discovered.
Clark, Linda & Carole Rawcliffe. Society in an Age of Plague. , 2013. Print.
Crawshaw, Jane. Plague Hospitals: Public Health for the City in Early Modern Venice. London, UK: McGraw Hill, 2012. Print.