In the 14th century, a Plague, beginning in China, swept through the world, which changed the face of every country. As the Far East suffered deaths which almost depopulated the countryside, Europe watched and waited, hoping the Spirit of death would not darken their shores. Their hopes were in vain as the Plague swept into the coastal cities and spread inland into the heart of the countries. Inthe years 1347-1352, Europe's population declined by 25 million people, roughly one third of the population; some areas were nearly decimated. Buildings were left empty. Famous names disappeared forever. Men, women and youths in perfect ehalth at midday were dead by nightfall... The Black Death spread through Italy to Spain, France, Switzerland and Yugoslavia in the first six months; then toBritain, Austria, Hungary and Germany; then to Ireland, Scandinavia and Russia with catastrophic results.
In England, the plague is said to have arrived in Dorsetshire in July or August of 1348. It quickly spread throughout England, Scotland and Ireland. The year 1349 was the most deadly year of the plague. In some areas, the survivors were so few that there were not enough living to bury the dead. InNorwich, with a population of 70,000 some 57,374 were said to have died of the plague. About two-thirds of all of the clergy in England were victims of the plague. Many villages and hamlets lay desolate. Fields and mills were abandoned. Livestock also fell victim to the Plague, including the prized sheep.It was recorded that in one field, 5,000 lay dead. Peasants lay dead beside the roads.Children were carried into the churches to be laid in mass graves. Dogs and cats were also affected. It seemed that no living thing was spared the horrors of the death which gripped the land. The country stood still as the hand of death lay upon it.
It was in this year that the Scots, believing that God's vengence was upon England, decided to invade England. Gathering a force of troops, the Scotsmarched into England only to be smitten themselves of the plague. Over 5,000 died of the plague. The remnants of the Scottish army returned home, only to carry the plague into Scotland where it spread rapidly throughout that land.
The symptoms of the Bubonic Plague were easy to determine: fever, swelling of the lymph glands in the neck, armpit and groin; red spots which eventually turned black. Thelymphs would swell to the size of an egg or an apple and were often black. As the disease spread throughout the body, black boils spread across the body due to internal bleeding.The swellings would continue to grow until they burst, emitting a dreadful odor. The grotesque appearance of the victim added to the fear and horror of the disease. Death was usually within 3-5 days, though some died within24 hours of infection.
The Bubonic Plague thrived in the months between July to October and was spread by fleas which were transported by rats. The disease affected everyone from the social rich to the reclusive pauper. No remedy seemed apparant. As people fled the cities for the countryside, so did the Plague. Causes for the plague were blamed on everything from the wells to the Jews toSpiritual retaliation. There was a widespread belief that the plague was carried by the wind, some cloud or mist. Most, however, believed that the plague was the result of God's wrath upon them. The plague's helpless victims did not know what was killing them and had no idea for a remedy. The people at the time of the plague called it "The Pestilence" or "Great Mortality".
Along with the Bubonic Plague,the population also suffered, during the winter months from a more deadly Pneumonic Plague. This plague was noted by high fever and headache followed by coughing which took on a bloody red, foamy appearance. The Plague was spread through germs transmitted by the cough or sneeze.
Malaria is one of the oldest diseases known to mankind. The Chinese, Indian and Egyptian manuscripts mention malaria....
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