Social Effects of The Black Plague

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Words: 1150 |

Pages: 3|

6 min read

Published: Apr 11, 2022

Words: 1150|Pages: 3|6 min read

Published: Apr 11, 2022

During Medieval Times, a disease that spread like wildfire killing family, friends, and so on had many names, but it is most commonly known as the black plague. In Western Europe, around 1348 the black plague began to kill off millions of people being close to half the population by the end of the 1350s. Other than the fact that many family trees were buried with all the lives this plague took, the Black Death was able to make us take others’ lives due to hysteria. Without the technology, uncovering the real reason to how it originated, and why it suddenly grabbed on to any life force that it could, was simply beyond them. Hence they began to construct theories of their own. The effects of this hysteria were uncanny leaving stereotypes left for the people to decide whether or not if these were accurate. Some took generations to break while others only had short term effects, both of which cost the loss of lives and time. The population blamed Jews, their own sins, and domestic pets for causing the Black Death, having a negative effect on society at the time because, even after the Plague occurred, we still feel its outcome today.

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The Jewish religion has been one of the most hated on religions throughout time but the discrimination from the black plague had a different effect on them. At the time, Christians were the more dominant religion. As Bower explains “They believed that the Jews, bent on world domination, were secretly poisoning the wells of Christian towns and cities. Thousands of innocent Jews, who had also suffered from the plague, were slaughtered in dozens of European communities”. This caused conflict between the Jews and Christians to follow even after the black death. There have been reported actions taken against each other for centuries the most recent being the Six Day War. Although the war mainly occurred because Egypt believed the deployment had prevented an Israeli attack on Syria, it had a huge effect on Christians and Jews. However, it does not end there as the science Times article states “The most extreme response to the terror of the plague was the scapegoating of Jews. This produced a hysterical campaign of ferocious violence against Jewish communities, many of which were entirely destroyed in mass executions”. This is only the beginning, as we see hundreds of years later once again Jews are thrown in concentration camps and huge mass killings led by Hitler. Although proven innocent to all of this still this was able to help tarnish the Jews reputation making it worse as for them throughout history. As Hoffman continues to explain “In this city the authorities, who attempted to save the Jews, were overthrown by a fear-stricken mob led by the butchers’ and tanners’ guilds and by the nobles who were determined to do away with the Jews who were their economic competitors and to whom they were indebted for loans”. This shows that the hysteria overthrows those in the right mindset which explains why it was able to get so frightful. Which again occurred in Germany hence many feared Nazis, and discrimination of others, while some simply were not educated to understand the full situation. The relentless fear and hysteria are what allowed the conflict between the jews to continue throughout history, and the blame for the black death is another example that caused a great deal of pain and continued discrimination.

With no way of knowing how this plague came upon them; spreading from person to person, many began to have no one else to blame but themselves as they discovered it may be their own sins causing such destruction. They believed that God was showing his wrath through the plague which he had done before as it explained in the book bible. However “Believing that the plague was caused by their own sins, many people tried penance, joining processions led by priests and whipping themselves with painful lashes”. Although this was not necessarily an act of God but of rats, there are many conspiracies that God’s wrath is still to come keeping faithful followers of God on edge. The effect of this has caused churches to become less strict realizing how punishment for sins is for the afterlife and not to be done by the priest. Yet these aggressive acts led the author Bower to state “An extreme religious group, the flagellants, roamed the cities and towns of Central Europe holding public confessions and performing displays of piety in which they used whips, known as flagella to scourge themselves”. These cruel punishments, given to themselves, had a huge effect on how victims of the plague though. Watching your brothers and sisters hurting themselves in order to level with God’s disease changed their mindset. This had a huge change in the way many lived their lives greatly affecting the world we live in today.

Lastly with an ongoing hysteria, people began to blame their own household pets for spreading the plague. Unsure of how it continues to spread they began to believe that there infested animals were the culprits of bringing the disease as explained “The best-known superstition was about the bad luck of cats and their association with the devil. Many cats were killed as a result of this superstition, which exacerbated the problem of the plague. Without cats to act as their predators, little kept the rat population in check”. This act allowed more rats to roam around spreading the plague more vigorously which biggest effect was the number of lives it began to take. This took part in family trees to completely vanish quicker. Not to mention an unnecessary amount of cats died to a disease they could have helped in. “Because of their secretive nature and their ability to survive extraordinary circumstances, the general population came to fear cats as consorts of Satan. The innocent cats began to be killed by the thousands.” still today we fear black cats as a superstition that they bring bad luck. Something this time period seriously affected. However, the hysteria spread to other housepets, Cats by far faced more death than any other animal.

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During the middle ages, the huge hysteria of who caused the black plague left a stain of history that we still feel today from the placed blame on Jews, their own sins, and domestic pets. The mass murders of jews caused a ripple effect in time as we see this happen on multiple occasions due to stereotypes. While the blame on themselves for the plague change a mindset that has lived with us since and has continued to change for the better. Even the blame of cats spreading the plague has left a serious superstition of black cats that many people today are fearful of. All in all proving the blame and hysteria during the plague has had a huge part in shaping our lives today.

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Social Effects Of The Black Plague. (2022, April 11). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 28, 2024, from
“Social Effects Of The Black Plague.” GradesFixer, 11 Apr. 2022,
Social Effects Of The Black Plague. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 28 May 2024].
Social Effects Of The Black Plague [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2022 Apr 11 [cited 2024 May 28]. Available from:
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