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What Was the Plague?
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What Was the Plague?
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Oh, rats! It's time to take a deeper look at what caused the Black Death—the deadliest pandemic recorded in human history.While the coronavirus COVID-19 changed the world in 2020, it still isn't the...
Oh, rats! It's time to take a deeper look at what caused the Black Death—the deadliest pandemic recorded in human history.While the coronavirus COVID-19 changed the world in 2020, it still isn't the...
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  • Oh, rats! It's time to take a deeper look at what caused the Black Death—the deadliest pandemic recorded in human history.
    While the coronavirus COVID-19 changed the world in 2020, it still isn't the largest and deadliest pandemic in history. That title is held by the Plague. This disease, also known as the "Black Death," spread throughout Asia, Africa, and Europe in the fourteenth century and claimed an astonishing 50 million lives by the time it officially ended. Author Roberta Edwards takes readers back to these grimy and horrific years, explaining just how this pandemic began, how society reacted to the disease, and the impact it left on the world.
    With 80 black-and-white illustrations and an engaging 16-page photo insert, readers will be excited to read this latest additon to Who HQ!

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  • From the book What Was the Plague?
     

    Looking back at history, certain periods stand out as times of progress and prosperity, when people enjoyed a better life than the generations before them had.
     
    The three hundred years from 1000 to 1300 in Europe count as one of those prosperous periods. One reason is that there were not many wars. That meant kings, lords, and knights weren’t off on battlefields and could stay at home in their manors or castles. There, along with noble ladies in rich gowns and headdresses, they could enjoy lavish feasts, often with music and acrobats. Together, they went off hunting deer. They enjoyed playing card games and chess, both of which had originated in the Far East.
     
    Knights who served as soldiers for a lord kept up their battle skills through festive “pretend battles” called tournaments. In a contest called a joust, two knights in full armor on horseback would gallop straight at each other, each trying to knock his opponent off his horse with a hard blow from a lance. After showing off such strength and bravery, the winner might get a keepsake from the lady he loved, who’d been sitting in the grandstand.
     
    The peasants who farmed the lords’ land had none of the luxuries enjoyed by the nobility. Nevertheless, they saw their lives improve, too. Because of certain inventions, the work of peasants was made easier. There were better plows to till the soil. A work harness designed for horses meant that peasants no longer had to depend on slow oxen to pull a plow. Ways of farming also improved. Varying what was grown and leaving part of the land fallow (unplanted) resulted in much bigger crops. That resulted in more food and, in turn, more food meant healthier people who no longer owed as much free labor to the lords, as had been the case in earlier times.
     
    By the year 1300, the cities growing all over Europe gave rise to a new middle class. These were people who had thriving businesses. In the social order, they fell in between the nobles at the top and the peasants at the bottom. There were guilds (groups of people all in the same type of business) producing high—quality goods—-leather shoes, steel suits of armor, wooden furniture, and jewelry made from gold and silver. Trade was showing the first sign of becoming global, with ships connecting all the parts of the world known to Europe.
     
    Western Europe was so prosperous that its population almost doubled between 1000 and 1300. Three cities—-Paris, Milan, and Granada—-each had 150,000 people living in them. Both Florence and Venice could claim a population of 100,000, and while London only had 80,000, it was growing into the most important trade center in Northern Europe.
     
    To many, it must have seemed as if the good times would last forever. No one had cause to think that a disaster was coming. But one was.
     
    About one-third of the population of Western Europe—-an estimated twenty—five million people—-was wiped out between 1345 and 1351. All because of tiny, disease—carrying fleas. The disease was called different names: the great mortality, the pestilence, and the black death. (Often, sick people’s hands, feet, and mouths would turn black. It was that horrible.)
     
    Today, this disease is most often called the plague. The people who managed to survive the plague faced a world that had been changed in almost unimaginable ways.
     
     
    Chapter 1: You Definitely Have the Plague If . . .
     
     
    The outbreak of the plague that started in 1345 and fizzled out in 1351...

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