Essay on How the Justinian Plague Paved the Way to The Black Death

Essay on How the Justinian Plague Paved the Way to The Black Death

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During the fourteenth century, Europe faced one of the worst tragedies of its time. A mysterious plague claimed millions of lives, cutting Europe’s population into half of what it was. Historians today call this catastrophe the Black Death. Many people know little about the Black Death but to understand its significant role in history, one must know its early origins, rapid spread, painful symptoms, and devastating effects.
The Black Death started its rage in the year 1347, but it is hard to know exactly where and how it originated (Dunn 12). Even today, there are differing theories on how the plague became so violent. However, the history leading up to the outbreak of plague gives clues about the Black Death’s origin. First of all, the plague of the fourteenth century might not have been altogether something new (Zahler 28). Even in the biblical times, plague could have already been present. The Bible speaks of instances where people suffered boils on their bodies. In Exodus, God sends a plague of boils to the Egyptians to punish the stubborn Pharaoh for keeping the Israelites in bondage. Some evidence was even found of this plague in ancient Egypt. An archaeologist found an Egyptian medical text of 1500 B.C. called the Ebers Papyrus, describing a disease with symptoms of boils, which modern scientists think to be plague (Zahler 28). Later on in the Old Testament, the first book of Samuel also gives mention of a plague that the Philistines had where boils covered their bodies (Zahler 28). These boils mentioned were likely identical to buboes, one of the apparent symptoms of the Black Death.
Moving on in history, in the year 541 A.D., the first recorded plague pandemic occurred (Zahler 29). During this time, the Byzantine Empire...

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...ually occurs within forty-eight hours of symptoms (Zahler 27). An Italian friar who lived through the plague, Michele da Piazza, described what is thought to have been pneumonic plague:

Works Cited

Byrne, Joseph. The Black Death. 1st ed. Westport: Greenwood Press, 2004. 1-123. Print.
Docufans. “History's Turning Points - AD 1347 The Black Death.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 23 Jun. 2011. Web. 29 Apr. 2014.
Dunn, John. Life During the Black Death. 1st ed. San Diego: Lucent Books, 2000. 1-96. Print.
"Feodosiya". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2014. Web. 25 Apr. 2014
Herlihy, David. The Black Death and the Transformation of the West. 1st ed. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997. 1-121. Print.
Zahler, Diane. The Black Death. 1st ed. Minneapolis: Twenty-First Century Books, 2009. 1-149. Print.

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