17 Creepy Details in the Life of a Body Collector During the Bubonic Plague
17 Creepy Details in the Life of a Body Collector During the Bubonic Plague

17 Creepy Details in the Life of a Body Collector During the Bubonic Plague

Trista - October 5, 2018

17 Creepy Details in the Life of a Body Collector During the Bubonic Plague
Bruegel the Elder’s painting The Triumph of Death. Wikimedia.

16. The Black Death Changed Music, Literature, Art and Religion

Unsurprisingly, art and culture were both massively changed by the social upheaval that attended the loss of more than a third of Europe’s population. There was a strong sense of fatalism and merely waiting for the end of times during the 14th Century pandemic. This notion is reflected in the somber, morose tone of music, art, and literature created during the period. The Catholic Church also saw a loss of power during the chaos of the era, and the seeds were planted for the Protestant Reformation.

Art is, naturally, the easiest way to observe the cultural effects of the Black Death on the culture of the era. Death is frequently seen in pieces of the period, as in the famous illustration of dancing skeletons. Death stalked Europeans every day during the period, so it is unsurprising to see representations of that constant presence in their art. The music shifted during the period as well, becoming more somber and focused on death and the hope for salvation.

Literature of the period also reflects the themes of death and fatalism. Many authors also served as chroniclers of the chaos and destruction of the pandemic. Writers like Boccaccio provided a window for future readers into daily life under the shadow of the Black Death. The intense religious thought of the period saw a weakening of the Catholic Church’s power, as it was unable to keep its faithful safe during the crisis. The perceived failures of the church during the period helped sow some of the unrest that would later erupt as the Protestant Reformation.

17 Creepy Details in the Life of a Body Collector During the Bubonic Plague
A map showing locations of identified plague cases in the United States. CDC.

17. The Plague Still Exists in the United States Today

The last major pandemic of the plague occurred in England in 1665, with smaller yet still devastating outbreaks ending in France with Marseilles in 1740. Despite its seeming disappearance, Yersinia pestis is actually still alive and well. Yersinia pestis is a zoonotic bacteria, meaning that it uses animals as its host and vector for transmission. It is endemic, meaning naturally occurring, all over the world from China to the United States.

The plague still infects humans, with cases occurring every single year. Thanks to the advent of penicillin and other antibiotics in the 20th century, the epidemic is now mostly treatable although the septicemic course of the disease remains dangerous and difficult to successfully treat. However, over 80% of the cases identified in the United States follow the bubonic path of the disease.

In the United States, the bubonic plague chiefly occurs in two regions: the Southwest states and a pocket in northern Nevada, southern Oregon and eastern California. On average, seven cases of the plague are identified every year. Outdoor activity in these areas is the main risk factor, as it brings people into contact with the habitat of rodents bearing fleas infected with the bacteria. Cases regularly occur around the world as well, wherever people can come into contact with rodents carrying infected fleas.

 

Where did we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

History Collection – 10 of the Deadliest Global Pandemics of All Time

“What It Was Like To Be A Body Collector During The Bubonic Plague” Genevieve Carlton, Ranker. n.d.

“42 Catastrophic Facts about the Black Death” Karen Lehnardt, Fact Reviewer. August 2016.

History Collection – 16 of History’s Deadly Diseases That Were in Decline and Are Now Making a Comeback

“The Black Death” Lumen Learning.

“Famous People Who Died of Bubonic Plague” Reference staff, Ranker. N.d.

“The Influence of Plague on Art from the Late 14th to the 17th Century” Sardis Medrano-Cabral, Montana State University. n.d.

History Collection – Unusual Historic Crises and Calamities

“Cambridge Black Death Victims Buried with Compassion, Study Finds”. BBC News. 18 June 2020

“Oldest Strain Of Black Death Bacteria Found In 5,000-Year-Old Human Remains”. Beth Jojack. Medical News Today. July 1, 2021

History Collection – The Deadliest Pandemic in Modern History Killed Millions in the 20th Century

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