What did the people in the Medieval Times think caused the Black Death?

People in the Medieval Times thought the Black Death was a punishment from God for their sins. People prayed and asked for forgiveness from God. One group went as far as to travel from town to town, whipping themselves and others, all the while chanting prayers to God. These were called 'flagellants'.

They blamed the Black Death on the Jews and, as many were desperate to find a solution to the cause of the Black Death, people believed them. Jews were either captured in groups and burned alive in barns or burned alive individually in public squares. Others thought that it started in the East, when frogs, snakes, lizards and snakes rained down from the sky, followed by thunder, lightening and fire.   


Flagellents seeking forgiveness

What actually caused the Black Death?

Black Death was a bacteria-born disease; the bacteria being Yersinia pestis (see below). In 1894, doctors discovered that the 'bubonic plague' (look in symptoms) was actually caused by germs carried by fleas that lived on black rats. when the rats died, the fleas found a new home - a person. The Medieval people were very dirty as they did not wash very often and they tended to have fleas. If an infected flea bit them, the Black Death would pass on to the person.

The 'pneumonic plague' (look in symptoms) was airborne. it was caught by breathing in the infected water droplets that were breathed (or coughed) by a victim.

Cycle of the Bubonic plague.

Yersinia pestis at 200x magniification. This bacterium was carried on fleas that lived on rats and is generally thought to be the main reason for those millions of deaths in the 14th century.