Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

The Chances Of Surviving The Black Death
Current Archaeology ^ | 3-29-2008

Posted on 03/29/2008 4:52:00 PM PDT by blam

The chances of surviving the Black Death

Why did some people survive the Black Death, and others succumb? At the time of the plague – which ravaged Europe from 1347 to 1351, carrying off 50 million people, perhaps half the population – various prophylactics were tried, from the killing of birds, cats and rats to the wearing of leather breeches (protecting the legs from flea bites) and the burning of aromatic spices and herbs.

Now it seems that the best way of avoiding death from the disease was to be fit and healthy. Sharon DeWitte and James Wood of the University of Albany, New York, have examined 490 skeletons from the East Smithfield plague pit in London and found that the Black Death was selective in picking off the already frail. Lesions (damaged bone) associated with earlier episodes of infection, under-nutrition or other forms of physiological stress were present in most of those buried at East Smithfield, where the dead were stacked five deep in the mass graves on a site hurriedly opened on land donated by the Bishop of London.

‘This actually contradicts what many have assumed about the epidemic, says Dr DeWitte. ‘The pattern we observed is of the Black Death targeting the weak, though it did also kill some people who were otherwise healthy. This is consistent with an emerging disease striking a population with no immunity’.

During the plague, physicians wore a beaklike mask which was filled with strongly aromatic herbs and spices to overpower the miasmas or bad air thought to carry the plague. The hat and the long, black overcoat was designed to minimise skin exposure. Exposed skin was also coated in wax or suet to protect against droplet contamination (see illustration).


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: black; blackdeath; blackplague; bubonicplague; death; epidemic; godsgravesglyphs; plague; publichealth; sharondewitte; yersiniapestis
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-76 next last

1 posted on 03/29/2008 4:52:01 PM PDT by blam
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: blam

Flea powder would have been great idea then.


2 posted on 03/29/2008 4:56:03 PM PDT by lilylangtree (Veni, Vidi, Vici)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: blam

3 posted on 03/29/2008 4:59:35 PM PDT by blam (Secure the border and enforce the law)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SunkenCiv
GGG Ping.

The Black Death: Bubonic Plague

In the early 1330s an outbreak of deadly bubonic plague occurred in China. The bubonic plague mainly affects rodents, but fleas can transmit the disease to people. Once people are infected, they infect others very rapidly. Plague causes fever and a painful swelling of the lymph glands called buboes, which is how it gets its name. The disease also causes spots on the skin that are red at first and then turn black.

Since China was one of the busiest of the world's trading nations, it was only a matter of time before the outbreak of plague in China spread to western Asia and Europe. In October of 1347, several Italian merchant ships returned from a trip to the Black Sea, one of the key links in trade with China. When the ships docked in Sicily, many of those on board were already dying of plague. Within days the disease spread to the city and the surrounding countryside. An eyewitness tells what happened:

"Realizing what a deadly disaster had come to them, the people quickly drove the Italians from their city. But the disease remained, and soon death was everywhere. Fathers abandoned their sick sons. Lawyers refused to come and make out wills for the dying. Friars and nuns were left to care for the sick, and monasteries and convents were soon deserted, as they were stricken, too. Bodies were left in empty houses, and there was no one to give them a Christian burial."

The disease struck and killed people with terrible speed. The Italian writer Boccaccio said its victims often "ate lunch with their friends and dinner with their ancestors in paradise."
By the following August, the plague had spread as far north as England, where people called it "The Black Death" because of the black spots it produced on the skin. A terrible killer was loose across Europe, and Medieval medicine had nothing to combat it.

In winter the disease seemed to disappear, but only because fleas--which were now helping to carry it from person to person--are dormant then. Each spring, the plague attacked again, killing new victims. After five years 25 million people were dead--one-third of Europe's people.

Even when the worst was over, smaller outbreaks continued, not just for years, but for centuries. The survivors lived in constant fear of the plague's return, and the disease did not disappear until the 1600s.

Medieval society never recovered from the results of the plague. So many people had died that there were serious labor shortages all over Europe. This led workers to demand higher wages, but landlords refused those demands. By the end of the 1300s peasant revolts broke out in England, France, Belgium and Italy.

The disease took its toll on the church as well. People throughout Christendom had prayed devoutly for deliverance from the plague. Why hadn't those prayers been answered? A new period of political turmoil and philosophical questioning lay ahead.

Black Death - Disaster Strikes

25 million people died in just under five years between 1347 and 1352. Estimated population of Europe from 1000 to 1352.
1000 38 million
1100 48 million
1200 59 million
1300 70 million
1347 75 million
1352 50 million

4 posted on 03/29/2008 4:59:53 PM PDT by blam (Secure the border and enforce the law)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: blam

I’m not too sure I buy this assessment. People found in a mass grave were quite likely to have been of the poorer classes, and consequently have been more likely to be malnourished and live huddled together in squalid places where rats and fleas proliferated. Plague is a disease that overwhelms the immune system, and even good physical health is not much help once you’ve been infected.


5 posted on 03/29/2008 5:00:45 PM PDT by Mr Ramsbotham (Laws against sodomy are honored in the breech.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: blam
the best way of avoiding death from the disease was to be fit and healthy...

...and the best way to be fit and healthy was not to be poor.

I have read that the black death killed off so many of the peasant serfs that it brought down the feudal system. There were just not enough peasants to work the land, and those that were left could bid up the price of their labor.

Economically, times were good for the peasants that weren't dead.

6 posted on 03/29/2008 5:04:32 PM PDT by seowulf
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: blam
The Black Death

Economic Disruption

Cities were hit hard by the plague. Financial business was disrupted as debtors died and their creditors found themselves without recourse. Not only had the debtor died, his whole family had died with him and many of his kinsmen. There was simply no one to collect from.

Construction projects stopped for a time or were abandoned altogether. Guilds lost their craftsmen and could not replace them. Mills and other special machinery might break and the one man in town who had the skill to repair it had died in the plague. We see towns advertising for specialists, offering high wages.

The labor shortage was very severe, especially in the short term, and consequently, wages rose. Because of the mortality, there was an oversupply of goods, and so prices dropped. Between the two trends, the standard of living rose . . . for those still living.

Effects in the countryside were just as severe. Farms and entire villages died out or were abandoned as the few survivors decided not to stay on. When Norwegian sailors finally visited Greenland again in the early 15thc, they found in the settlements there only wild cattle roaming through deserted villages.

Whole families died, with no heirs, their houses standing empty. The countryside, too, faced a short-term shortage of labor, and landlords stopped freeing their serfs. They tried to get more forced labor from them, as there were fewer peasants to be had. Peasants in many areas began to demand fairer treatment or lighter burdens.

Just as there were guild revolts in the cities in the later 1300s, so we find rebellions in the countrside. The Jacquerie in 1358, the Peasants' Revolt in England in 1381, the Catalonian Rebellion in 1395, and many revolts in Germany, all serve to show how seriously the mortality had disrupted economic and social relations.

7 posted on 03/29/2008 5:05:37 PM PDT by blam (Secure the border and enforce the law)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: blam

“BRING OUT CHUR DEAD! BRING OUT CHUR DEAD! BRING OUT CHUR DEAD!”

“I’m not dead yet!”

CLONK!

“BRING OUT CHUR DEAD!”


8 posted on 03/29/2008 5:06:54 PM PDT by 444Flyer (Fight to Win.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: 444Flyer

I can’t believe that nobody’s posted that picture yet.
;-)


9 posted on 03/29/2008 5:07:58 PM PDT by SIDENET (Hubba Hubba...)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: lilylangtree

Not killing off the cats that kept the rats carrying the fleas in check wouldn’t have hurt either.

Remember, when you see a large number of cats in an area, that’s a symptom of a larger problem. It means that there is a VAST food source for the cats, and usually that’s some sort of vermin. Eliminate the cats, and whatever they’re keeping in check will explode - usually with very, very bad results.


10 posted on 03/29/2008 5:12:51 PM PDT by Spktyr (Overwhelmingly superior firepower and the willingness to use it is the only proven peace solution.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: SIDENET; 444Flyer
Monty Python - Not dead Yet
11 posted on 03/29/2008 5:19:24 PM PDT by blam (Secure the border and enforce the law)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: SIDENET

I’m just thankful someone caught it.

Dead Collector: “I promised I’d be at the Robinsons’. They’ve lost nine today.”;-)


12 posted on 03/29/2008 5:21:06 PM PDT by 444Flyer (Fight to Win.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: blam

Excellent!


13 posted on 03/29/2008 5:22:19 PM PDT by 444Flyer (Fight to Win.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: blam

50 million is such an ubelievable number!

And antibiotics could have saved millions. Woody Allen once said he didn’t want to go back in time to any time further than the invention of antibiotics. I’m with him (except the pervo part).


14 posted on 03/29/2008 5:25:52 PM PDT by Southerngl
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: blam

People tend to think of The Plague as horrifying but just something from the Middle Ages. Not so. It is still around waiting to explode.

While serving in the Navy I received the plague immunization series several times. This was due to areas of the world I had a good chance of finding myself in on “official business”.

Nothing like possible exposure to the plague to bring things into focus ;-)


15 posted on 03/29/2008 5:45:53 PM PDT by DakotaGator
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: blam

Odd that China seems to be the main source of the world’s worst plagues.

The black death. Influenza. And now, bird flu, sooner or later coming to a neighborhood near you.


16 posted on 03/29/2008 6:14:16 PM PDT by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: DakotaGator
My wife picked up Yersinia pestis minor from her Red Tailed hawk. She and the bird were successfully treated with antibiotics. It's one of the possible hazards of being a falconer.
17 posted on 03/29/2008 6:19:00 PM PDT by Myrddin
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: seowulf

Climate change did it. thaey were in the middle of the mini ice age, and food was scarce.


18 posted on 03/29/2008 6:24:08 PM PDT by stubernx98 (cranky, but reasonable)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: Cicero
Historical Review: Megadrought And Megadeath In 16th Century Mexico (Hemorrhagic Fever)

"The epidemic of cocoliztli from1545 to 1548 killed an estimated 5 million to 15 million people, or up to 80% of the native population of Mexico (Figure 1). In absolute and relative terms the 1545 epidemic was one of the worst demographic catastrophes in human history, approaching even the Black Death of bubonic plague, which killed approximately 25 million in western Europe from 1347 to 1351 or about 50% of the regional population."

"The cocoliztli epidemic from 1576 to 1578 cocoliztli epidemic killed an additional 2 to 2.5 million people, or about 50% of the remaining native population."

19 posted on 03/29/2008 6:29:42 PM PDT by blam (Secure the border and enforce the law)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: blam

Interesting.


20 posted on 03/29/2008 6:33:23 PM PDT by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 19 | View Replies]

To: blam

Our ancestors who survived bequeathed us stronger, healthier genes.


21 posted on 03/29/2008 6:38:07 PM PDT by Ciexyz
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: DakotaGator
Right you are. I knew a man who died of the plague he picked up rabbit hunting in eastern Oregon in the early 80s. The doctors didn't figure out what he had until it was too late.
22 posted on 03/29/2008 6:47:26 PM PDT by stormer
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: blam

(repost from a previous FR thread on The Black Death/Plague)

Link to the site for the Black Death episode on PBS’s “Secrets
of the Dead” series.
A good show about who lived, who died and maybe why.

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/secrets/case_plague/


23 posted on 03/29/2008 7:32:59 PM PDT by VOA
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: blam

HillaryCare. That is the ONLY answer. Our ONLY hope.


24 posted on 03/29/2008 7:55:20 PM PDT by LiberConservative (Part of the "Vast Typical White Guy Conspiracy")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: blam

I thought this was going to be a thread about Obama.


25 posted on 03/29/2008 7:57:28 PM PDT by Rastus
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: blam

Ah yes. Even the children remember.

Ring around the rosey
(the buboe or symtom of the plague)

A pocket full of poseys
( a nosegay of flowers to cover the smell of death)

Ashes, ashes, we ALL fall down.
(everyone dies)


26 posted on 03/29/2008 8:08:35 PM PDT by tet68 ( " We would not die in that man's company, that fears his fellowship to die with us...." Henry V.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Rastus
"I thought this was going to be a thread about Obama."

LOL!

27 posted on 03/29/2008 8:27:43 PM PDT by Hound of the Baskervilles ("Nonsense in the intellect draws evil after it." C.S. Lewis)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 25 | View Replies]

To: blam; StayAt HomeMother; Ernest_at_the_Beach; 1ofmanyfree; 24Karet; 3AngelaD; 49th; ...

· join list or digest · view topics · view or post blog · bookmark · post a topic ·

 
Gods
Graves
Glyphs
Thanks Blam.

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list.
GGG managers are Blam, StayAt HomeMother, and Ernest_at_the_Beach
 

· Google · Archaeologica · ArchaeoBlog · Archaeology magazine · Biblical Archaeology Society ·
· Mirabilis · Texas AM Anthropology News · Yahoo Anthro & Archaeo ·
· History or Science & Nature Podcasts · Excerpt, or Link only? · cgk's list of ping lists ·


28 posted on 03/29/2008 8:32:34 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/_____________________Profile updated Saturday, March 29, 2008)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: blam

The very best way was to have two parents that both had the Delta-32 mutation.


29 posted on 03/29/2008 8:43:55 PM PDT by djf
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: blam

I followed the link, to a couple of others. Absolutely mind-boggling.


30 posted on 03/29/2008 9:12:19 PM PDT by Judith Anne (I have no idea what to put here. Not a clue.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 19 | View Replies]

To: blam; DakotaGator
The bubonic plague mainly affects rodents, but fleas can transmit the disease to people.

And it still does. Ground squirrels, prairie dogs, and the enviro-weenies' favorite - the black footed ferret - all are flea bags. A veritable plague incubator, long recognized and consequently nearly eradicated. Also one of the reasons you don't hunt rabbits until after a good hard frost. Every few years a case of plague shows up NW Colorado; fortunately some old sawbones recognizes the symptoms in time.

31 posted on 03/29/2008 9:21:03 PM PDT by kitchen (Any day without a fair tax thread is a good day.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: Myrddin

Now there’s something you don’t run across every day ;-) Glad the treatment worked!


32 posted on 03/29/2008 10:01:19 PM PDT by DakotaGator
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

To: stormer

Pretty bad.

I had to insist on one set of innoculations. Otherwise the medical powers that be would have failed me...as they did your friend.


33 posted on 03/29/2008 10:03:51 PM PDT by DakotaGator
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

To: kitchen

Horrifying how all of the old scourges are returning! And that in no small part due to the environazis!!


34 posted on 03/29/2008 10:10:20 PM PDT by DakotaGator
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 31 | View Replies]

To: DakotaGator
I just got done watching “I am Legend” with my son. Will Smith against the diseased Zombies in Manhattan. I mentioned to him that it won't surprise me when some type of deadly epidemic does come again (probably NOT zombies though ;) It is only a matter of time. And PERHAPS with the better technology we have nowadays we can stop it/slow it down before it kills 50% of us.
35 posted on 03/29/2008 10:20:30 PM PDT by 21twelve (Don't wish for peace. Pray for Victory.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 34 | View Replies]

To: DakotaGator
Me too. I did my graduate work in pathogenic bacteriology. I was floored when I heard the lab results.
36 posted on 03/29/2008 10:35:33 PM PDT by Myrddin
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 32 | View Replies]

To: blam

Bump


37 posted on 03/29/2008 10:45:17 PM PDT by Fiddlstix (Warning! This Is A Subliminal Tagline! Read it at your own risk!(Presented by TagLines R US))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: blam

It was noted that the rich who drank out of and ate off from silver came down with the plague less often. Silver is a known germ killer.


38 posted on 03/30/2008 12:39:45 AM PDT by Bellflower (A Brand New Day Is Coming!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Spktyr
Not killing off the cats that kept the rats carrying the fleas in check wouldn’t have hurt either.

Right. China is killing off their cats, which were many, to prepare for the Olympics. They better watch out for a plague. They are killing the cats horribly.

39 posted on 03/30/2008 12:44:52 AM PDT by Bellflower (A Brand New Day Is Coming!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: 21twelve
I just got done watching “I am Legend” with my son.

Check out "28 Days" and "28 Weeks Later". I think they were both superior movies to Will's Smith's work.

40 posted on 03/30/2008 5:09:47 AM PDT by Caipirabob (Communists... Socialists... Democrats...Traitors... Who can tell the difference?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 35 | View Replies]

To: Bellflower
"It was noted that the rich who drank out of and ate off from silver came down with the plague less often. Silver is a known germ killer."

News article from four days ago.

U.S. regulators approve copper alloys as a germ killer

41 posted on 03/30/2008 6:49:28 AM PDT by blam (Secure the border and enforce the law)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 38 | View Replies]

To: 21twelve
I mentioned to him that it won't surprise me when some type of deadly epidemic does come again...It is only a matter of time. And PERHAPS with the better technology we have nowadays we can stop it/slow it down before it kills 50% of us.

The U.S. is not prepared for a pandemic. It isn't that we don't have the capability. It is because we are not organized nor have the mindset to deal with it.

This is why health officials are so concerned about an influenza pandemic. The Avian Flu strain, H5N1, is nasty. If it crosses over to become a human virus the world in will be behind the power curve trying to deal with it. That is, unless we prepare to deal with pandemics as well as other disasters.

This type of preparation wouldn't necessarily stop a pandemic's spread so much as slow it and lessen its impact. Then the better technology comes into play to break the pandemic.

The point to remember is preparation. If prepared for disasters, the better technology of our civilization will not be overwhelmed. It will then enable us to make it through the hard times.

42 posted on 03/30/2008 6:57:18 AM PDT by DakotaGator
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 35 | View Replies]

To: Myrddin
I was floored when I heard the lab results.

Long ago, during the Persian Gulf Tanker War, the Force Surgeon told me something I will never forget. Basically he said that our medical community was encountering diseases endemic to the Gulf Region that they had never dreamed of.

That, coupled with observations of friends (military veterans) struggling with exotic diseases has convinced me that the broad medical community really needs a better method of diagnosis.

Until an instant, foolproof method of diagnosis is developed, we had all better be actively involved in our health & well-being!

43 posted on 03/30/2008 7:10:57 AM PDT by DakotaGator
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 36 | View Replies]

To: blam
Thanx for the post.

I think it was during this period that a princess of England was going to marry a prince of Spain. They were going to meet at a French port controlled at that time by England.

This would have been a giant step uniting the two kingdoms against France. The princess and several of her entourage caught the plague and died in the port. End of power move.

It was also the plague that caused widow's dowry laws. Estates were going to the male heir and some were not supporting the wife/widow and in moat cases their own mother. I believe fewer women got the plague, because they primarily stayed at home. The laws were changed to provided for surviving widows.

44 posted on 03/30/2008 7:15:59 AM PDT by purpleraine
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: DakotaGator
It is because we are not organized nor have the mindset to deal with it.

One mindset we don't have is a tough one. We won't be able to save everyone. So we need to allocate medicine and resources on those with the best chance of survival. That means scarce vaccines, lung ventilators and emergency rooms have to be allocated PRIOR to the event. Sorry grandma, you don't qualify! A form of triag based upon odds. Good luck with that.

45 posted on 03/30/2008 7:33:31 AM PDT by Drango (A liberal's compassion is limited only by the size of someone else's wallet.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 42 | View Replies]

To: Mr Ramsbotham
The wealthy were also better able to escape the over-populated areas—which was where the rats congregated.
46 posted on 03/30/2008 8:12:26 AM PDT by bannie (clintons CHEAT! It's their only weapon.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: DakotaGator
There has been speculation that the Black Death was not caused by the Bubonic Plague, but by some unidentified type of hemorrhagic fever, like Ebola. One argument in favor of that theory is that the supposed vector of Bubonic Plague, rats and their fleas, could not travel fast enough to account for the reported spread of the Black Death, whereas hemorrhagic fever, spread by direct contact from one infected person to another, could.
47 posted on 03/30/2008 8:14:51 AM PDT by PUGACHEV
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: DakotaGator

In fact, it lives in the mountains between Bakersfield and the beach.


48 posted on 03/30/2008 8:15:25 AM PDT by bannie (clintons CHEAT! It's their only weapon.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: blam

How ever, once the threat was over, the available resources were divided among fewer, prospering beyond belief people.

there was a boom.


49 posted on 03/30/2008 8:17:29 AM PDT by bert (K.E. N.P. +12 . Never say never (there'll be a VP you'll like))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: Drango
Concur. Quarantine and isolation will also need to be rapidly imposed.
50 posted on 03/30/2008 8:20:24 AM PDT by DakotaGator
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 45 | View Replies]


Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-76 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson