SIGNIFICANCE OF THE BLACK DEATH
The Black Death is one of the most significant events in all of Western history. Today historians consider it be of importance due to the impact it had on the world and how it shaped societies across Europe and Asia at the time. As well, its significance as an example of a pandemic is still relevant today and is a reminder to the world of the potential for widespread and devastating infectious diseases. A pandemic is an infectious disease that impacts people across a wide area, including the entire planet.
The Black Death is the term that historians use to describe the spread of the bubonic plague. It is believed that the plague first began in Central Asia and spread to Europe through vast trade routes such as the Silk Road. Historians studying the spread of the plague discovered that the disease was spread by fleas that are commonly found on rodents such as rats and mice. As such, it is now understood that the plague spread via trade routes as the rodents travelled in caravans and on merchant ships. This is important to understand because it helped modern societies understand the way that infectious diseases spread and led to important medical advancements.
Another example of the significance of the Black Death was the reported death tolls that resulted. While the total number of deaths is a debated topic they are none the less massive with some suggesting that it resulted in the deaths of between 75 and 200 million people in Europe and Asia. These high numbers suggest that between 30% and 60% of people died due to the infectious disease. The high number of deaths had a dramatic effect on the world's population at the time and shows the ability of diseases to spread widely in society.
The next significance of the Black Death was the knowledge that modern societies have learned about preventing and stopping the spread of pandemics. First, hygiene played a crucial role in the spread of the disease. Europe in the Middle Ages lacked the modern conveniences of sanitation and running water. Instead, human filth was often just dumped in the street. This situation caused rodents such as rats and mice to flourish which helped spread the fleas that carried the plague with them. As such, crowded cities and towns were often havens for the plague since it attracted rodents that were drawn to human activity. As such, modern societies have developed sanitation systems which have greatly reduced the ability of such diseases to spread so easily. This increased level of hygiene also extended to modern medical practices as people learned the importance of regular hand-washing and bathing.
Finally, the Black Death was significant because of the many impacts it had on the world at the time. The first main impact of the Black Death was the sheer number of people that died. Historians agree that Europe’s population dropped by half in the first several decades of the Black Death, and this had a huge impact on social and family life for communities throughout Europe. The second major impact of the Black Death was the economic loss or effect that resulted from the spread of the plague. As stated in the previous paragraph, the spread of the plague caused people to avoid crowded areas. As such marketplaces and trade in general suffered.
In all, the Black Death was an important event that fundamentally changed life for people across Europe and Asia. It was caused by the spread of the bubonic plague and caused massive death tolls wherever it occurred. It is remembered today as one of the most important pandemics in all of human history and for its role in other major events and time periods, such as: the Silk Road, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.