What are the Similarities Between Black Death and Great Plague

Plague is a disease is caused by a bacterial strain named Yersinia pestis. In the middle ages, plague caused the deaths of millions of people in Europe. Black Death and Great Plague are two names of pandemics that affected Europe. Black death is a devastating global pandemic that affected Eurasia and North Africa in the mid-1300s. Great Plague (1665 to 1666) was the last major outbreak of the bubonic plague in England. There are many similarities between Black Death and Great Plague since both are outbreaks of bubonic plague.

In the middle ages, no one knew how this disease was caused, transmitted, prevented or cured. Both Black Death and Great Plague resulted in a drastic reduction in the population of Europe.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Black Death 
     – Cause, Spread, Features
2. What is Great Plague
    – Facts, Spread
3. What are the Similarities Between Black Death and Great Plague
     – Outline of Common Features

Key Terms

Black Death, Bubonic Plague, Great Plague

What is Black Death    

Black death is a devastating global pandemic that affected Eurasia and North Africa in the mid-1300s. It is the most deadly pandemic recorded in history, causing up to 75–200 million deaths. The peak of this pandemic was in Europe from 1347 to 1351. Moreover, Black death is considered to have originated in Asia and was spread by trading ships.

Similarities Between Black Death and Great Plague

Figure 1: Spread of Black Death

In the middle ages, no one knew what Black Death was or how it spread from one patient to another. Medieval physicians did not know how to prevent the disease or treat it. At the end of the 19th century, the French biologist Alexandre Yersin identified that this pandemic was spread by the bacterium Yersinia pestis. This bacterial infection commonly results in bubonic plague. It can also result in septicaemic or pneumonic plagues. The main signs and symptoms of bubonic plague are swollen lymph glands called buboes, fever and chills, headaches, seizures, muscle pains and general weakness. The bacillus can travel from person to person through the air and through the bite of infected fleas and rats. 

Since there was no cure for the plague, people infected with it died with three days. Moreover, the plague never really ended and returned over the centuries over several occasions.

What is Great Plague

Great Plague, which lasted from 1665 to 1666, was the last major outbreak of the bubonic plague in England. Within 18 months, it killed around 100,000 people, almost a quarter of London’s population. When compared to the Black Death, this epidemic was on a far smaller scale. It is called the “great plague” because it was the last widespread epidemic of Bubonic plague.

Main Similarities Between Black Death and Great Plague

Figure 2: Collecting Dead Bodies

There was no cure for bubonic plague during this time period as well. However, authorities took steps to prevent the spread of the disease. Houses with plague victims were marked with a red cross, and the inhabitants told to observe a 40-day quarantine. However, physicians had no real idea about the cause of the disease. It was beginning of the winter season that actually brought the end of the plague.

Similarities Between Black Death and Great Plague

  • Both Black Death and Great Plague are outbreaks of bubonic plague, caused by a bacterial strain named Yersinia pestis.
  • The main signs and symptoms of bubonic plague are swollen lymph glands called buboes, fever and chills, headaches, seizures, muscle pains and general weakness.
  • The disease was highly contagious and can spread from person to person through the air, and through the bite of infected rats and fleas.
  • It terrified and killed many people.
  • Physicians at the time had no idea about the cause of this disease, it’s transmittance, prevention or cure.
  • In both Black Death and Great Plague, the plague mainly affected the population of Europe.

Conclusion

Black death is a devastating global pandemic that affected Eurasia and North Africa in the mid-1300s. Great Plague (1665 to 1666) was the last major outbreak of the bubonic plague in England. There are many similarities between Black Death and Great Plague since both are outbreaks of bubonic plague. No one knew how this disease was caused, transmitted, prevented or cured. Therefore, it caused millions of deaths.

Reference:

1. “The Black Death and Great Plague – Causes of Illness and Disease – WJEC – GCSE History Revision – WJEC – BBC Bitesize.” BBC News, BBC, Available here.
2. “Black Death.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 21 May 2020, Available here.
3. “Great Plague of London.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 12 May 2020, Available here.

Image Courtesy:

1. “1346-1353 spread of the Black Death in Europe map” By Flappiefh – Own work from: Natural Earth; The origin and early spread of the Black Death in Italy: first evidence of plague victims from 14th-century Liguria (northern Italy) maps by O.J. Benedictow (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Great plague of london-1665” By unknwn –  (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

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