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The Black Death


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The Black Death (from a series, NOT my work)

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The Black Death

  1. 1. © Boardworks Ltd 20071 of 21 © Boardworks Ltd 2007 Britain 1066–1500 1 of 21 The Black Death Icons key: For more detailed instructions, see the Getting Started presentation Teacher’s notes included in the Notes Page Accompanying worksheet Flash activity. These activities are not editable. Web addresses Sound
  2. 2. © Boardworks Ltd 20072 of 21 Learning objectivesLearningobjectives © Boardworks Ltd 20072 of 21 What was the Black Death? How did medieval people think it was spread? How was the disease really spread? What actions were taken to stop the spread of the disease and were they successful?
  3. 3. © Boardworks Ltd 20073 of 21 Oh God, what terrible disease has arrived at my village? We are all sick with swellings and fever. The lucky ones are those that die, for who can survive this illness and be left to pick up the pieces of this mad world. Surely God is listening to my prayers. I am writing this in hope you heed my warning and remove yourself from all mankind. I am dying… and you may be next… Press play to listen to this text. What was the Black Death?
  4. 4. © Boardworks Ltd 20074 of 21 The Black Death is also known as the plague. In the 14th century it spread rapidly across Europe, causing a massive reduction in the population. “…emergence of certain tumours in the groin or armpits, some of which grew as large as a common apple. Black spots appeared on the arm or the thigh…” People who caught the disease had swellings on their bodies, sometimes as big as eggs. Then the black spots would appear, which gave the disease its name. What was the Black Death? A medieval description of the plague:
  5. 5. © Boardworks Ltd 20075 of 21 The spread of the plague
  6. 6. © Boardworks Ltd 20076 of 21 There were two types of plague: Bubonic plague was the more common and was carried in the bloodstream of rats. Fleas bit the rats and became infected. They then hopped onto other rats or humans, bit them and passed on the disease. Pneumonic plague was less common, but more deadly. It was caught by breathing in the germs released when an infected person coughed or sneezed. How did the plague spread?
  7. 7. © Boardworks Ltd 20077 of 21 Symptoms of the plague
  8. 8. © Boardworks Ltd 20078 of 21 Merchant ships frequently had rats on board. The rats which got on the boats in China and India, where it is thought the disease began, transferred the disease to the sailors on board. How did the plague get to Britain? When the ships reached ports in Europe, the disease infected people working at the docks, who spread it further. The Black Death travelled along trading routes.
  9. 9. © Boardworks Ltd 20079 of 21 “In the month of August 1348, after the evening sun began to set, a very bright star appeared above Paris … The star seemed much nearer the earth than stars usually are … it seemed to me … that the star stayed in one place … At last darkness fell. Then to the amazement of all of us, the star split up into many different rays. It shed these rays towards the east, over Paris. The star then completely disappeared.” What does this source tell you about how people thought the plague began? Why did many people blame God? What did people believe caused the plague? Description of the plague reaching France by Jean de Venette, friar.
  10. 10. © Boardworks Ltd 200710 of 21 Sent by God to punish them for their sins. The movements of the planets. Being close to infected people. Bad smells. Were any of these ideas correct? What did people believe caused the plague?
  11. 11. © Boardworks Ltd 200711 of 21 “[Toads] should be placed on the plague boil. The toad will swell and draw out the poison of the plague to its own body…” It was thought that by bleeding people, they could get rid of the bad blood which caused the plague. Flagellants were people who believed that if they whipped and hurt themselves, God would take pity on them. Do you think that any of these methods would work? How did people try to prevent the plague? Guy de Chauliac
  12. 12. © Boardworks Ltd 200712 of 21 Plague doctor
  13. 13. © Boardworks Ltd 200713 of 21 Although it is impossible to discover how many people died from the Black Death, it is estimated that around 1 in 3 people in England died as a result of the disease. These coffins show the percentage of priests that died from the Black Death in Exeter, Norwich and Ely. Is the percentage of priests that died likely to be higher or lower than the percentage of ordinary people? The effects of the Black Death
  14. 14. © Boardworks Ltd 200714 of 21 The effects of the Black Death Monks and priests were particularly badly hit by the plague, because they were expected to visit the sick and dying. This illuminated letter from an English text made around 1360–75, shows monks with the plague being blessed by a priest.
  15. 15. © Boardworks Ltd 200715 of 21 The effects of the Black Death Rents dwindled, land fell waste for want of tenants who used to cultivate it... many villages and hamlets were deserted... and never inhabited again. To our grief the plague carried off so vast a multitude of people of both sexes that no-one could be found who would bear the corpses to the grave. Men and women carried their own children on their shoulders to the church and threw them into a common pit. William of Dene Ralph Higden of Chester How did the Black Death affect ordinary people?
  16. 16. © Boardworks Ltd 200716 of 21 For the survivors, some good things did come out of the Black Death. Was the Black Death a complete disaster? Some historians think that before 1348 England was overpopulated – there were too many people for the land and resources available. Many peasant farmers had barely enough land to feed their families. Because there were so many people, food prices were high and labourers’ wages were low. If peasants complained about their duties, lords found it easy to replace them with new tenants.
  17. 17. © Boardworks Ltd 200717 of 21 Was the Black Death a complete disaster? The reduction in population caused by the Black Death meant that there was more good land for the survivors to farm. In many areas, village populations were greatly reduced. Some villages were even deserted. With so few labourers about, workers could ask for higher wages. Villeins could demand greater freedoms, as their lords could not find new tenants to replace them. Those who ran away from their lords could easily find a new manor where there was land and work for them on better terms.
  18. 18. © Boardworks Ltd 200718 of 21 At Woodeaton there were only two farmers left and they would have gone away if the abbot had not made a new agreement with them to reduce their work service… As soon as masters accuse their workers of bad work … they leave quickly and find jobs in new places at higher wages. Masters dare not upset their workers… Was the Black Death a complete disaster? Why were workers in a better position after the Black Death? from the records of Eynsham Abbey, c.1385. from Introduction to a Law, 1376.
  19. 19. © Boardworks Ltd 200719 of 21 Effects of the Black Death
  20. 20. © Boardworks Ltd 200720 of 21 Preventing the plague
  21. 21. © Boardworks Ltd 200721 of 21 The Black Death: multiple-choice questions