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The idea that the Black Death could spread so easily made everyone live in utter fear in medieval Europe. The Black Death, also known as the bubonic plague, originated from the Yersinia Pestis bacterium that circulates among rats and other rodents. The Black Rat, which carries the Yersinia Pestis bacterium, lives near humans in households and ships. Not only could a rat infect a human with the disease, but in many cases rat fleas living on the rats could as well. These rat fleas could attach themselves to peoples clothing and were very unnoticable. Rat fleas were able to find new hosts on ships and helped spread the disease from country to country. “Infected ship rats would die, but their fleas would often survive and find new rat hosts wherever they landed” (Benedictow 1). Crowded cities and a large population created the perfect environment for these rodents and fleas to easily spread the deathly plague and devastate the human race. Living where tiny rodents and fleas could infect people from anywhere struck fear into everyone because there was always  a high chance of being infected and a sense of never knowing what could happen. Many people completely changed the way they lived proving that they were extremely afraid of this plague. People came up with their own unique strategies of living in an attempt to avoid or cope the Black Death. Some took an approach of creating their own communities away from those who were infected. They brought friends and loved ones only if they were free of disease. If these people had enough money, they were able to lock themselves up with enough resources to stay content. “They shut themselves up in houses where there were no sick, eating the finest food and drinking the best wine very temperately, avoiding all excess, allowing no news or discussion of death and sickness, and passing the time in music and suchlike pleasures” (Boccaccio 1). These people were so scared they went away from the world they knew and did not even let people discuss the plague out of utter fear.  Another strategy to deal with living in fear of the Black Death was to carry around herbs. “They did not shut themselves up, but went about, carrying flowers or scented herbs or perfumes in their hands, in the belief that it was an excellent thing to comfort the brain with such odours” (Boccaccio 1).  This was a way to cope with the fear that loomed over people’s lives. They were so scared that carrying herbs made them feel safe and better about everything that was going on. Others took an isolationist approach showing they were extremely afraid of the Black Death. “They said that the only medicine against the plague-stricken was to go right away from them. Men and women, convinced of this and caring about nothing but themselves, abandoned their own city, their own houses, their dwellings, their relatives, their property, and went abroad”(Boccaccio 1). This strategy exhibits the most fear of the Black Death out of all. They were so scared of being infected with these disease that they completely abandoned everything. The fact that some people could just completely ditch their loved ones and property to start a new life shows they were terrified of something. The final strategy to survive was to promote happiness. These people were so afraid of the plague that they virtually accepted their death. They tried to rid their lives of stress and do fun things that would make them happy. “They put their words into practice, spent day and night going from tavern to tavern, drinking immoderately, or went into other people’s houses, doing only those things which pleased them” (Boccaccio 1). This was more of a mechanism for coping with the fear of the Black Death. They exposed themselves to many possible places where the disease could have been which shows no attempt at survival. They feared the Black Death enough to believe that there was no way to be safe from it. These people wanted their final years to be good and believed that going out happy was much better than hiding away in fear. Another aspect of the Bubonic Plague that left people in fear was the violent nature of death from the disease. In a letter written by Michele di Piazze, he described death from the plague. “From this the infection penetrated the body and violent bloody vomiting began. It lasted for a period of three days and there was no way of preventing its ending in death” (qtd. Simkin). Not only does the plague kill you, but you die from coughing up your own blood. This was an idea so violent and painful that it struck fear into those with or without the plague. People became so afraid of the Black Death that their morals went out the window. If someone was sick, their family often completely abandoned them or treated them very poorly. Even diseased children were left to die by their parents. It is morally incorrect to leave family members, especially children, to rot and die. The right thing to do is to tend to loved ones in a time of need. But in the case of the Bubonic Plague, this disease was so scary that it wasn’t worth it to many. The experiences of the sick in Avignon, France was described: “Neither are the sick now served by their kindred, except as dogs would be; food is put near the bed for them to eat and drink”(Gasquet 1). Humans deserve to be loved and treated with respect. But in these dark times, they are compared to being treated like dogs. This proves that the Black Death scared people so much that they reverted to survival instincts and did not treat others with any moral standards. In another incident in Florentine, “Florentine officers drove the sick from their hospital beds and out the city gates, threatening any who returned with torture” (Byrne 1). These officers threatened to torture people dying from disease. This portrays an absence of morals from Florentine officers. People also feared getting the disease from others dead bodies. The correct way to treat a dead loved one is by hosting a funeral and preserving the dead body. But during the time of this plague, men called Gavoti were hired to take the dead bodies and dump them into funeral grounds. The funeral grounds often contained messy piles of dead bodys. The fear of contracting the disease forced people to completely disrespect the bodys of their loved ones. Even doctors were too afraid to tend to the sick. “The sickness has already grown to such proportions that, from fear of contagion, no doctor will visit a sick man, even if the invalid would gladly give him everything he possessed”( Gasquet 1). The job of Doctors is to aid and try to heal sick people. The doctors of this time were too afraid of the plague to due their job. They knew they were the only possible help to these people yet they completely abandoned their moral duty of saving lives in complete fear of being infected. Doctors left humans to die which is more proof of the absence of morals in society during this era. The Black Death caused such widespread death that the need to survive outweighed moral standards. There were some cases were town’s leaders were either burdened by the plague or too afraid to come out. Therefore, in many places there was no one to enforce the law. This allowed people to act however they pleased and to no surprise, many people did horrible things that were morally incorrect. People went around searching for abandoned property. They would take whatever they wanted and move to the next house. They treated others however they pleased and did anything and everything in order to survive. It is never considered okay to rob and abuse people. But when there is such a looming threat of death, people no longer care what is right or wrong. Building a good reputation or having good relationships are far less important than food and resources. The breakdown of law and order in medieval Europe is proof that the Black Death scared people enough to abandon moral standards.

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