Accept Death (31 of 40) by Stephen Whitney
This content is part of a series.Accept Death (31 of 40)
The Black Plague which peaked in Europe between 1348 and 1350 was one of the deadliest pandemics in human history. It is believed to have started in Central Asia and was probably carried by fleas residing on the black rats that were regular passengers on merchant ships which spread it throughout the Mediterranean and Europe.
The Black Plague is estimated to have killed between 30% to 60% of Europe's population. It took 150 years for the population of Europe to recover from the thoussands of people who died as a result of the plague.
Medieval people called the catastrophe of the 14th century either the "Great Pestilence"' or the "Great Plague". Swedish and Danish writers in the 16th century were the first to describe the events as "black" which then came to be called the "Black Plague."
They used the term "Black Plague" not to describe the late-stage sign of the disease, in which the sufferer's skin would become black due to internal bleeding and the extremities become dark because of gangrene, but as the term is more likely to refer to black in the sense of dreadful as to denote the terribleness of the events.
Many people wrongly thought that the plague came from the polluted air and that walking in the garden among fresh flowers was a way to breathe cleaner air. Doctors who wanted to help their patients filled their pockets with petals from flowers and brought them into the hospital rooms which were full of people who were not able to get up and walk. They would sprinkle the petals onto the patient, hoping somehow the fragrance would clean their lungs of pollution. Other doctors blew ashes into the faces of patients, hoping to cause them to sneeze to clear their lungs which they believed would make them well.
Out of the doctor's practice in trying to make patients of the plague well came a nursery song which was first heard by an old man pushing a cart st ...
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