The History of the Black Death

Question 1 of 4

The Social and Medical Situation in Medieval Europe in 1348



Phyllis's drawing of a black rat




bacteria • exacerbated • excrement 

malnutrition • miasma • mortality • offal 

pervasive • superstition • unhygienic • vulnerable 


Online Dictionary: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/


The situation in medieval Europe when the plague struck was  (made worse) by ignorance,  (excessive and unfounded beliefs in supernatural forces), unsanitary living conditions and poor medical practice.


At the time, no one knew the cause of the disease or suspected the existence of  (microorganisms that can cause disease). Many falsely assumed that the disease was caused by the movements of heavenly bodies or by infected air, known as a " ". There was also a  (wide-spread and entrenched) belief that the plague was God's punishment for sin. There was generally a lack of systematic observation and evidence-based medical practice.


The   (not sanitary) living conditions also provided the ideal environment for rats, fleas and indeed infections of all kinds.   (a formal word for body waste) lay on the streets and the cities stank. Rats had plenty to feed on, since the butchers worked in public and left piles of  (organs, animal flesh) on the streets. Fleas were also commonplace and peasants expected to have them. 


Poverty,  (lack of nourishment) and poor health were typical for a large percentage of the population. The Black Death therefore struck an already weakened population.The rate of  (death) in untreated cases is reportedly around 40–60%.


Presumably, a healthy, well-fed person would have had a better chance of surviving than a poor, malnourished peasant – but of course Europe’s population was largely made up of poor, malnourished peasants, who were therefore particularly (susceptible) when the disease struck.


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