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Plagues and The Destruction That They Left Behind : A Historical Prespective

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The history of plagues has been a real eye opener for the modern times. We come to know about the different plagues which caused destruction in the world. Though there are more, some of the important and eventful ones are listed here. This gives us an idea about the fact that how a small rat can be the cause of such a catastrophe. The death of many innocent lives, fall in the economy and the loss of Empires of Kings are all the outcomes of this epidemic. Plague can prove to be fatal if not treated well and promptly. Some of the people have been lucky to survive and the fact is that when once someone is infected, then he or she cannot contract it a second time as they become immune to it. “Black Death”and “Plague” (World Health Organization) reveals to us the details about the epidemic. Did the Economy suffer? is a key question which is answered in the paper.


Plagues are the result of a bacteria called the ‘Yersinia Pestis’ which is prevalent in rats. These bacteria can be contracted by infected fleas or through the sneezing or coughing of an infected person. Early detection and treatment help in saving lives. Plague has been in existence from the Middle ages and frequently occurs in countries like Madagascar, Congo and Peru. Animals and rodents are the main causes of this disease as they transmit it to humans (WHO,2017). Plagues destroyed human lives and cased much destruction. The worst plagues were the Athenian and Justinian which wreaked havoc by spreading fast and killing countless number of people. Doctors and nurses died while treating the patients as they contracted the disease. Hence the effect of the plagues in history was such that it created shortage of labour (Smith, C. A. n.d.). Hence, on the whole the economy suffered and this is what we are going to see in the paper.

The Black Death:

The Black Death was an epidemic which occurred due to the transmission of bacteria known as the Yersinia Pestis. It started from China and spread to various other countries. London and England as well were affected by the plague which took place between the years 1347- 1351.Europe was affected many times and the carriers were rats which had the plague causing fleas inside them. The towns were the worst affected and some of the kings and queen including two archbishops died. Trade started to decline and the worst factor was that land cultivation stopped due to the death of labourers. The Jews were ostracized by the Christians as they were believed to be the cause of this plague. Many great painters as well died during this era (Ray, M. 2019). There was shortage of essential items and hence prices started to rise which made the farmers seek higher wages. The landowners could not refuse their demand for the fear that the farmers might run away and never return for work (Simkin, J 1997).

The Justinian Plague:

This epidemic took place during the rule of Emperor Justinian in the year 542 CE in Constantinople and hence the name. The black rat was the carrier of this plague. North Africa provided provision items for the Constantinople Empire and the rats infested on these items kept in the ware houses. The weather conditions were not favourable with freezing temperatures. War was as well initiated. Food became a shortage and this affected most of Europe. Though trade flourished, it was seen as the main cause for the plague to occur as the rats were transmitted by ships carrying the goods. The disposal of dead bodies of humans and animals posed a serious challenge for the Emperor. The plague made the enemies conquer the Byzantine Empire as there was a dearth of soldiers and new ones could not be trained and recruited. Trade and agriculture showed a declining trend due to the death of farmers. Even then, the Emperor continued staging wars with other countries (Horgan, J. 2014).

The Great Plague of London:

This plague took place in London from the year 1665 to 1666.It originated in St. Giles in London and spread till Westminster area. Though the epidemic spread to all places, it began to come down from

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