BLACK DEATH: The Causes and Effects of a Pandemic
Smith, Curtis V.
Kansas City Community College e-Journal, October (2007)
Medical historians, bacteriologists, epidemiologists, immunologists, and entomologists alike have argued for almost a century about the cause of one of the worst pandemics in human history: “The Black Death.” This phrase was not used until the 17th century by British historians who are thought to have been connecting death and darkness with an especially mournful period in the late medieval literature from 1347-1352. It has been estimated that half the populace of Europe were robbed of their lives by a disease demonstrating several different forms during five long and horrifying years. Most microbiologists today believe the phrase “The Black Death” comes from the dark patchy appearance of the skin that is manifest in modern cases of bubonic plague. Using a plethora of translated descriptions among writers and medical practitioners during the time of The Black Death correlations will be drawn with modern medical descriptions of infectious disease that have direct bearing on specific causality. There are several alternative views among historians who differ with the generally held position that bubonic plague be held responsible for the Black Death. This debate will be reconstructed along with the addition of new evidence highlighting key descriptions of skin manifestations and symptomology that reassures the status of bubonic plague as the cause of The Black Death. The purpose of this study not only focuses the cause of Black Death in order to perhaps prevent reoccurrence, it helps us to understand how medical practitioners, natural philosophers, and the public in general struggled to cope with accepted knowledge about a disease that supremely challenged the reality of their experience