The Impact of the Black Plague on European Jews

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The Impact of the Black Plague on European Jews “One tiny insect, a flea, toppled feudalism and changed the course of history in Europe.” (Walter S. Zapotoczny) (Representation of a massacre of the Jews in 1349 Antiquitates Flandriae (Royal Library of Belgium manuscript 13076/77 from entry “Black Death Jewish Persecutions, Wikipedia) Impact of the Black Plague on European Jews Introduction The Great Mortality or Black Death was an “unprecedented catastrophe” that spread throughout Europe between 1348 and 1350. It was the worst plague since the sixth century killing between one quarter and one half of the total population of Europe. (Encyclopedia Judaica Volume 4, p. 1065). People affected by the Black Death suffered throbbing, swelling, high fevers, and ultimately death. The name, in fact, comes from a symptom of the disease in which “sufferers’ skin would blacken due to subdermal hemorrhages.” (Walter S. Zapotoczny, “The Political and Social Consequences of the Black Death, 1348-51, p. 1)The plague entered Europe from the Port of Messina, Sicily, carried by fleas on rats who then spread the infection when they bit humans. Many places in Europe had growing immigrant populations and they tended to come to cities. Therefore, the neighborhoods became dense and the transmission of diseases became easier. Hygiene in cities was not good because water was not clean so there were often infestations of fleas, rats and lice. The plague originated in Mongolia then spread because the Mongols promoted trade, travel and better communication. It moved in three directions: eastward into China, westward into Russia and finally, through sailors who traveled to Europe and the Middle East. How did the Black Death affect Je... ... middle of paper ... ....p., n.d. Web. 3 May 2014. . “Black Death.” Encyclopedia Judaica, Volume 4, pp. 1065-7. "The Black Death." JewishHistory.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 May 2014. . “Jewish History Sourcebook: The Black Death and the Jews 1348-1349 CE,” http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/jewish/1348-jewsblackdeath.asp Kelley, John. The Great Mortality, an Intimate History of the Black Death, the Most Devastating Plague of all Time, Harper Collins, 2005. Johnston, Ruth A. "Persecution of Jews in Medieval Europe." World History: Ancient and Medieval Eras. ABC-CLIO,2014. Web. 30 Apr. 2014. Zapotoczny, Walter S. “The Political and Social Consequences of the Black Death, 1348-51, http://wzaponline.com Ziegler, Philip, The Black Death, John Day Company, 1969.

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