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The Black Death
Transcript of The Black Death
Doctors from the medieval times had to get a doctors degree before they could become a doctor, much like present day doctors. Two differences from universities then and now are the facts that women were forbidden from being doctors and the ways that the students were taught. The doctors would study the human body by dissecting a donated body for their education. Students would take different classes according to their profession. The students would learn how to treat their patients and would learn different procedures about how to treat diseases or wounds. Doctors played a very important role in the medieval kingdom and were ranked highly in the class system. After Doctors got their degrees or licenses they would start their careers. Doctors could prescribe medicine, diagnose diseases and teach their patients how to prevent diseases from spreading. Doctors also made house calls and saw patients at their house or office much like modern doctors. To test for high sugar levels the doctor might taste a sample of the patient’s urine. Though gross, doctors still do this to this day around the world. These are a few things that doctors did.
The Black Death
Introduction and video on the Bubonic Plague
What is the Black Death and what caused it?
You may also know this disease as the bubonic plague. The bubonic plague is another name for the Black Death that struck Europe’s countries and cities very heavily in medieval times. According to
History Alive the Medieval World and Beyond
, the first strike that the bubonic plague had on Europe was from 1347 to 1351 . The lucky bacteria that gets this name is Yersinia Pestis (56-57). You might have guessed that the Black Death got its name because on the body black and blue egg sized boils would appear. These boils were basically inflamed lymph nodes("Plague"). You are also probably wondering where this whole deadly disease started. Well, according to History Alive the Medieval World and Beyond, it all started in central Asia and spread to the Black Sea, moving on to Europe by the Silk Road (a major trading route in the medieval world) (Alive 56-57).
This is a medieval ship that would have been used in Medieval times for trade.
The Black Plague, only occurs sporadically now days, but back then it wiped out about one third of Europe’s population. You know where it started, now it is time to look at where people first discovered it in Europe. The Black Death was first discovered when a ship pulled into a Sicilian port. All of the crew members were either dead or highly sick (Elliott, 8). This was because infected rats or fleas aboard the ships had bitten people, transferring the disease to the humans. The disease was quite often spread by rats or fleas. The book
Medieval Medicine and the Plague,
stated that this deadly disease could spread from person to person just from the touching of the clothes. The Black Death is a highly efficient disease. The article “Black Death”, by the History.com staff states, “People who were perfectly healthy when they went to bed at night could be dead by morning.” So many people got wiped out by the disease because rats and fleas were all over medieval Europe. They were in the streets, houses, and especially boats. Lack of sanitation also contributedto people getting the disease easily.
Medieval Medicine and the Plague
states that the dirty living conditions and lack of sanitation in medieval Europe was a great home for infected rats that would bite people. Rats would typically get infected by the bite of a flea or parasites which would bite humans, too. Symptoms that might give you a signal that you have the Black Death include vomiting, fevers, fierce coughing, sneezing fits, headaches, aching joints, hurting boils, and chills. Some people would start shivering so much that people would say they were doing the dance of death (Elliott, 8-9). According to the article "Plague" in the
Funk and Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia
, the pulse and breathing rates can also go up.
We decided to do our research project on the Black Death. We choose this topic because we have been learning about it in social studies and were curious to know more. The two subtopics that we decided to focus on were mine, "What people thought caused the Black Death and how they tried to protect themselves vs what really caused the disease," and my topic is "Medieval doctors and their daily life as a doctor."
What did people believed caused the Black Death?
Medieval people didn’t really understand the science behind the Black Death. They didn’t know where the Black Death came from or how it spread. Let me tell you, they thought many different things. According to
History Alive The Medieval World and Beyond
, some thought the disease was sent from God to punish them for their sins. Others thought that the disease was sent to test their strength and faith (56-57). I know that it might sound silly, but some thought that the disease was caused by the way the planets were aligned. They thought that the way the planets were aligned caused bad air (History.com).
Still, others thought that the sickness was caused by evil spirits that would enter the body. One of the most logical explanations though, stated that the body’s four humors had gotten out of balance. Medieval Medicine and the Plague tells us that the humors were created by the ancient Greeks and when the body’s four humors got out of balance, the body got sick. To get the humors back in balance again, doctors would prescribe special herbs to put in drinks, special diets, special exercises, and hot/cold baths (Elliott, 12-13). People truly believed that herbs could cure anything from a headache to anxiety. Although this wasn’t the cause of the plague, some people blamed the lepers and Jews for the spread of the disease. Fear of the disease made the treatment of Jews in the medieval times not at all wonderful. According to History Alive! The medieval World and Beyond, “Many German countries ordered Jews to leave” (page 57) Like I had mentioned earlier, people would blame everything and everyone for the spread and cause of the disease.
What could kill so many people. By this time next year, the whole school could be wiped out along with the towns next to Fishers. Whole cities would just be gone. That's crazy, but it happened to Medieval Europe. It is known as the Black Death and my subtopic that I decided to do is what did people think caused the Black Death and how they protected themselves from it vs what really caused the Black Death. The three topics that I will be focusing on are what caused the Black Death, what did people think caused the Black Death, and how did people protect themselves from the Black Death in medieval times.
Here is a video to give you an idea of how many people got effected by the Black Death.
How did People Try to Protect Themselves from the Black Death?
If your black boils did not break open, you would die in less than three days. During the strike of the Black Death, panic was spreading throughout Europe. History.com gives you an idea of how scary the Black Death was in their article “Black Death” for people when they state, “. . . many people, desperate to save themselves, even abandoned their sick and dying loved ones.” To protect themselves, the common people would flee to the country to try and escape the disease. That didn’t do them much good though since the animals were getting sick, too. Others protected themselves in different ways. For example, History Alive says that ministers would refuse to give last rights, shopkeepers closed their shops, and doctors refused to see patients (56-57). Can you imagine your doctor turning you down so they wouldn’t get sick?! To get rid of the disease, many people would pray for God’s forgiveness, believing that God had sent the disease to punish them. The article "Plague" states that along with prayer, some people would go and visit the tombs of dead saints, asking for their help to cure their friends and family from the Black plague. While festivals and colorful public events would be going on, people would shut themselves away in their houses to avoid being exposed to the brutal Black Death(New World). I couldn’t imagine skipping the county fair!
People were trying to avoid the Black Death, but they also wanted to warn others. If a town had been struck by the disease, a black flag would be put up at the church. While the church was working hard to warn people, medieval women would make medicines and special foods out of herbs, trees, flowers, and animals to help their friends and family. Since herbs were believed to fix a lot of things, women would use all of the different parts of the herb to make different home-made remedies. Luckily, today we don’t have to worry about making all of those medicines because we have antibiotics that can treat the Black Death. There are still fatal cases, but those happen rarely and it is nothing you should worry about. To prevent it in the first place, we can use basic sanitation habits and monitor ships to make sure rats aren’t on board to transport the disease. Thank goodness for antibiotics.
The Black Death was a very serious issue and many people were killed from it. From reading this Prezi, hopefully you got a better idea of how many people were affected and how hard it was to deal with the Black Death back in Medieval times. Thank goodness for antibiotics.
This picture shows the crazy things that medieval people thought caused the Black Death, like planet alignment.
This is a map that shows how many places got effected by the bubonic plague.
These were the "four Humors" in the body that medieval people thought caused the plague. They would cause it when they got out of balance. The four humors are phlegm, yellow bile, blood, and black bile.
What did doctors do to help their patients?
Doctors during the Black Plague wore a suit that would soon become one of their signature looks. This outfit had many parts to it and all played an important role. The first thing you might notice would be their black hats with wide brims. This hat covered most of their heads and was the least important part of the suit. Their mask was shaped like a bird’s beak because birds were commonly thought to carry the disease. Because of this they thought if they looked like a bird the disease would transfer from the patient to the mask. The mask’s beak was full of vinegar, sweet oils, and other strong smelling chemicals to mask the smell of the unburied. The masks had two red eyepieces that supposedly made them not susceptible to the disease. The mask they wore was probably the most important feature to this outfit. The coat they wore was covered in suet or wax that they thought would draw Black Death from their patients. The breeches that the doctors wore were used to keep the disease out and to protect their legs. Some doctors would carry around a wooden cane. This cane was not meant for walking but for directing the family where to move their sick loved ones. The suits that these doctors wore became their signature look. They were not effective because they did not protect them from what they thought caused the disease.
Doctors in the Middle Ages had many techniques that were very dangerous, creepy, and most of all, ineffective. They thought that they were helping their patients though very few treatments actually worked; sometimes the treatments caused even more damage. Some doctors would use urine to wash off battle wounds, severe cuts, and open wounds. Doctors would also make homemade tonics and healthy drinks to make their patients feel better. Doctors to this day still prescribe healthy drinks and antibiotics. One way doctors “helped” their patients was by draining some of the patients' blood. Doctors thought that this procedure would spill the disease out of their blood stream. This was called bloodletting. Cataract surgery involved the doctor pushing the patient’s cornea to the back of his or her eye while the doctor’s assistant held the patient back. This was performed while the patient was awake, like many other surgeries. The barbers at the time also acted as dentists. They would yank out rotten teeth from their patients with pliers, and then put the teeth on a necklace they wore around their neck. These are just a few ways doctors “helped” their patients.
What did medieval doctors wear during the Black Plague?
This picture gives you an idea of all of the different herbs used to help people get cured from the Black Death. Herbs were very important back in the middle ages for making medicine.
Table of Contents
What people thought caused the Black Death and how did they try to protect themselves vs what really caused the Black Death (KS)
Medieval doctors in general and their treatments (MM)
Dugan, Bryan. "Anatomy of 14th Century Bubonic Plague Hazmat Suits." Mental Floss. Mentalfloss, Inc., 2014. Web. 26 Mar. 2014. <http://mentalfloss.com/article/49217/anatomy-14th-century-bubonic-plague-hazmat-suits>.
Elliott, Lynne. Medieval Medicine and the Plague. New York, NY: Crabtree Pub., 2006. Print.
Noguchi, Satoshi. "Daily Life in Medieval Europe -Doctors." Daily Life in Medieval Europe -Doctors. Maruzen.com, 2009. Web. 27 Mar. 2014. <http://pengzi.maruzen.com/ian/m_europe/12doctors.htm>.
Rosenhek, Jackie. "Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move." Doctor's Review. Doctorsreview.com, 27 Mar. 2014. Web. 27 Mar. 2014. <http://www.doctorsreview.com/history/doctors-black-death/>.
How did common people become doctors? What did medieval doctors do?
<----This is what a mask that a medieval doctor wore looks like.
Most doctors went to a formal school like the ones below. They would take notes and practice on donated bodies.
In the picture below you can see a barber taking a patient's tooth out.