The Causes and Effects of the Black Death

Subject: History
Type: Cause and Effect Essay
Pages: 3
Word count: 946
Topics: Black Death, Christianity, Disease, Medicine

The deaths that engulfed travelers in the Central Asia, China and Middle East were attributed to a number of issues. Reilly argues that the cause and effects of such tragedies is never about getting possible cures. For a historian, it’s just about getting that understanding that would allow the society to progress. This is how historians differ from medics whose sole aim of finding out the cause of diseases is to ultimately find its cure. All in all, Reilly agrees that both historians and medics experience difficulties in the process of finding out the causes of diseases. Even though tis mysterious diseases has no specific cause as espoused in the available historical accounts, Reilly notes that one of the first historical writings that can be traced and linked to this epidemic are by Gabrielim.

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In the introduction he writes that “In the name 23 of God, Amen. Here begins an account of the disease or mortality which occurred in 1348, put together 24 by Gabrielem de Mussis of Piacenza’’ (Reilly 4). To begin with, the writer anticipates the causes of the deaths could be spiritual or a curse from a God. He gives accounts how Christian merchants had been forcefully driven out of the Tartars land whereby they sought refuge in Caffa. Interestingly when the Tartan forces/ army followed the Christian merchants to Caffa, it is only them that were affected by the deadly disease. The author seems to be insinuating that perhaps the God of the Christians was fighting the Tartans on behalf of the Christians and that’s why he allowed such a dreaded disease to kill them. He notes in one of the paragraphs as follows: “… See how the heathen Tartar races, pouring together from all sides, suddenly invested the city of Caffa and besieged the trapped Christians there for almost three years….. (6)

The other cause that is outlined is person to person spread. The author explains that the bodies of the army officers that had died were shipped into the city and hipped in one place with the hope that those who would smell the stench would also die. It is clear that the Tartars were actually targeting to kill the Christian merchants. And since the city was small and no one had a place to hide, the number of those who died actually increased and even the Christians were infected. He notes that since the Tartans had been overwhelmed by the disease they decided to abandon the siege. All in all, they made sure that no one was spared in that city. There are those who escaped by boat from Caffa to other areas. Unfortunately, it happens that they had already contacted the diseases and so when they arrived in those new cities the people there were also infected. The author notes that “When the sailors reached these places ….. it was as if they had brought evil spirits with them..” (12)

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The views provided by the author about the possible causes of the Black Death can easily be related to the modern times. About whether the gods were punishing the tartans from mistreating the Christian merchants’ that is debatable depending on one’s faith. There are Christians who believe that if you disobey Gods word then there is a possibility of the gods unleashing their anger on you. There are various accounts in the bible like the ten plagues that were sent to the pharaoh land so that he could free the Israelites. The holy bible gives accounts of how the Israelites were mistreated by Pharaoh for 400 years and then when God commanded that they be freed and the king refused, he unleashed his anger on Egypt.

There are so many occurrences that happen in the world today like terrorism, wars and other intra state conflict that some Christians claim that it is a punishment for people turning away from God. A good example of a disease that people have blamed on the supernatural is HIV/Aids which continues to kill people all over the world yet there is no cure. Those who claim to have been cured give credit to the supernatural being. The second cause of the Black Death which is person to person transmission resonates very well with some of tragic diseases that have struck the world in the modern times. A good case in point is Ebola which struck the western part of Africa recently.

Anybody who came in contact with those affected would definitely die. Even more intriguing is the way the disease would spread fast like a bush fire. Those who contacted would die within hours because they bled from all the holes in their bodies. Even the medics who unknowingly handle such cases were infected. However, unlike the olden days, the signs of Ebola are well known and some steps have been put in place to contain the epidemic. Whenever it breaks out, usually states are keen to ensure that the disease doesn’t cross into their bodies hence the screening at the airports or the travel bans.

The world usually is informed of the outbreak through the media, and then the necessary steps are put in place so as to obtain it. Currently medics are working on a possible vaccine to make people immune from this dreaded disease. The cause of Ebola is attributed the virus emanating from world animals such as the monkeys. Other deadly diseases that have similar characteristics to Ebola include chicken pox, dengue fever and bird flu.

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  1. Reilly, Kevin. “The Black Death.” Worlds of History, A Comparative Reader. Vol. One, Third   Edition. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s. 2007. 422-454
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