The 1665 “Great Plague” is the Bubonic plague – also referred to as the black death. It is one of the deadliest epidemics that humanity has ever witnessed. Over 1/3 of Europe’s population was completely wiped out. Some villages were totally eradicated. Here are some secrets, stories, and other facts you may not have known about the black death.
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The Bubonic Plague
The disease itself is incredibly easy to spread. It spread through rodents and fleas, which were all over the place in the 1600s. It also spreads between humans rapidly through body fluids. They didn’t have good hygiene back in the day, so vomiting and sores bursting rapidly spread the illness.
Getting this disease would kill you in seven days, and in some cases three to four days! It would be a brutal death, one filled with misery and torture before dying. Headaches, weakness, and severe pain are just a couple of the many horrible symptoms- in addition to vomiting and sores.
The disease spread through rats and fleas, and also through human fluids. Scientific knowledge was very minimal as well, with people blaming the disease on “God, planet alignment, cats, and even Jews.” Pest and wildlife control would’ve greatly limited the spread of this disease. Proper hygiene also would’ve prevented it. They still wouldn’t have modern day technology, but proper hygiene and rodent control works natural wonders.
Some doctors believed that bathing in water increased the likelihood of getting the disease. So some people would not bath- contributing to the spread. Other doctors believed that foul smells would “scare the disease away.” Putting human feces and urinating on humans was a practice done by a few doctors. Needless to say, their scientific knowledge was laughable and contributed to the spread of the disease.
The disease died down slowly along with the London fire of 1666. It is believed that the fire wiped out a lot of the fleas and rodents which were spreading the disease, not to mention it was already reaching its end.
In 3 months, London lost at least 15% of its population. In May 1665, there were 43 recorded deaths. In June there was 6,137 deaths. In July there was 17,036 deaths. At its peak in August, over 31,172 people died in London!
Some communities were completely wiped out. Other communities were very fortunate, by blocking off its borders and killing anyone they didn’t know. The disease killed so many people and spread so fast there was not enough man power to bury all of the bodies. “Plague Pits” were created to toss all of the corpses in. Where there wasn’t enough manpower to create plague pits, corpses would be left laying about, or tossed outside the village to rot.
Civilization was completely messed up. Crime soared, and things became very chaotic. If one person was suspected of having the black death, they would lock and seal the entire family in their home- condemning them to death. They would then mark the door with a red cross and, “Lord have mercy on us.”
At night someone would stroll the city with a cart, calling for people to remove the dead. The dead would be tossed in the cart, which would be wheeled off to a plague pit. No funerals, no proper burials- just plague pits and corpses.
The King’s Response
King Charles II and his whole court fled to Oxford. The rich and able would attempt to flee London, some failing and others succeeding. Many of the poor and unable were forced to endure the worst of the plague.
“Ring a ring of rosies” is a children’s song sung to this day regarding the great plague. There was so much death from it, and the children’s song represents the horrors of it.
The Great Plague Conclusion
The great plague and black death wiped out a total of the modern day equivalent of Brazil. It completely messed up society- imagine, Brazil’s entire population disappearing! Europe took 150 years to recovery its population.
Thankfully we now have much more scientific knowledge to prevent and counteract situations like this. A similar outbreak in San Francisco, USA was curbed after 66 deaths because of modern day advance sin technology. People back then blamed it on random things, such as “jews” and “planet alignment.”
What You Can Do
What can you learn from this? Pest & wildlife control + proper hygiene is KEY to great health. Keep the pests down, and the hygiene up. Stay healthy and keep yourself healthy.
We hope you enjoyed this read and looking forward to hearing your responses. Thank you!
-Wildlife X Team International