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Pest Mice and Plague (Part II)

The Black Death (part II): A Historical Account Of the Pest's Virulence

Disappearance of the Black Death

It wasn't until the later part of 1530's that the plague began to dissipate in Europe. The last strike of the plague in England was around 1665 and in Western Europe, the last traces were sometime 1722, about almost a century later. The gradual disappearance of The Black Death has spawned many theories and hypothesis as to what caused the exodus. One of the most argued and heated theories was that the black rats whom have been believed to be the primary carrier of the plague has been naturally replaced by brown rats that doesn't carry the plague infection. Whether due to migration of species or just the natural balance of things they can't figure out what exactly it was that lead to the replacement. Another theory suggests that the long term exposure among rodents to the disease made them develop an immunity system against the disease, thus, making them unviable for the disease's communication or probably the disease itself has undergone evolutionary changes that it became less fatal and eventually broke the centuries of contagion cycle. Amongst the theories that were formulated to explain the departure of the plague that garnered most approval from scientists at present was the concept of human intervention. Even though it wasn't until the early 19th century that doctors have found out how the bacteria and viruses in germs could lead to the disease, the fact along that Europeans were able to discover already in the 16th century that the plague's contagiousness and its parasitic characteristics, moving from one place to another probably dawned the beginning of the end of the plague.

Up to present times, scientists are still studying some areas around Europe were there was an account of historical concentration of the plague to uncover clues and certain evidences that would support any of the theories and finally find the ultimate answer as to what caused the plague at the first place and how it ended. However, conclusions are still remotely perceivable and angles of possible causes are still in consideration. Another debacle of the scientists that are onto finding the truth about the Black Death is the fact that the disease has indeed evolved to different forms over the years, making its origins remotely traceable. It is now hard to identify the characteristics of the disease's former state during the plague.

Effects of the Plague

Numerous consequences followed after the passing of The Black Death and all the other epidemics of the bubonic plague. One of the most horrendous accounts of the aftermaths of the plague was the series of horrifying vicious attacks on the Jews, outsiders and lepers whom were accused of deliberately imbuing poison into the air and water that caused the pestilence. The assaults have originated from the south of France, but were increasingly dramatic in the parts of Germany and Switzerland –the areas that have rich historical accounts of Jewish discrimination and attacks on their community. There were massacres even in Bern as a natural scenario that followed after. For weeks of formidable tension, Jews were wounded up together and burned or drowned in the marshes. There were also accounts of attacks on Jews even if there were no plagues. Slaughtering them was an accepted scenario as most of the other communities hated the Jews, in their conviction that they were the ones that caused the plague. The Pope, the highest leader of the Catholic Church deplored and condemned these killings that took place all around the Europe and had put forth efforts in discouraging the people from doing the heinous deeds. However, the face of mass's fury, these efforts were proven futile and the Jew killings continued on until the plague's manifestations have totally lifted up. That was the only time when the persecutions ended. There were accounts of persecution that took place after the plague, but confrontations were not with violence as it was during 1348 and 1351.

Contemporary Writers and Chroniclers have often labeled the plague as "a horrible and cruel thing".  Town during the time after the plague seemed to have been desolated and deserted.  The overall population of Europe was reduced drastically up to 50 percent or even more. In places like Bremen and Germany, casualties have reached to 7,000 to 12,000 inhabitants. Florence suffered even more casualties of the plague; deaths ranging from 40,000 to 90,000 of its inhabitants were wiped out during after the plague. Near Siena, two-thirds of the population in the urban areas were annihilated. 50,000 to 180,000 were recorded dead due to the plague in Paris, the largest city in the Northern Alps. Major cities in Europe were compelled to dig mass graves to dispose and burry the multitude of cadavers after the plague. There were even cases that an entire village's population, particular the smaller scale places, was annihilated due to the plague. And some time, villages have disappeared altogether. Larger towns were economically maimed due to drastic reduction of manpower, having their workforce and merchants either fled or died from the plague. The recovery of the population would have been easily done, however the newer epidemics that came after that plague prevented the reinstatement. European high populations were not reinstated only until last decades of the 1400's.

Economic changes can be evidently recognized after the plague as wealth became more concentrated on certain strata of the society. The deaths of thousands of people have lead to the unequal distribution of resources, leaving the survivors as benefactors of the resources left by the departed. Moreover, workers that have survived the plague were paid 5 times more for handling more than one person's job, having all other workers die from the plague, landlords and business owners are compelled to compensate more. The corresponding rise in per capita was inevitable and natural considering the deaths of many people. The drop in population has resulted to the natural economic affluence of the place. Extravagant spending in the different towns that followed were well documented. Merchants and landlords however, are getting poor by having to compensate more than regular and getting less return of investment.

The plague brought a few changes to religion and to medicine. Devotees continued to visit shrines as they normally do before and during the plague, still praying for the saints like St. Roch to protect them from any other plagues that might come. Pilgrimages to shrines were even made more popular. Other saints like St. Roch were even depicted in portraits of them protecting individuals from pestilence of anything depictive and symbolical of that sort. Although, many Europeans complained of the little help contributed by the contemporary physicians, old practices of alternative medicine and traditional medical practices were still being patronized. It remained unchanged even until the time when cholera struck up to 1830s.

Editor's Remarks

This article is largely educational in nature. In the light of knowing more about the pests and their effects of inhabiting the household, it would be wise to grasp some outsource knowledge regarding their nature, in the hope that having been able to know more about them would enable you to defend yourself from them and the harms they provide. Pest mice control is a mean towards an end. But such mean would require you to have sufficient knowledge first in what you are dealing with. I hope you will find this article both educational and motivating.

All the best,
Sergiu Zburatoru
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