The bubonic plague, also known as the Black Death, was an outbreak that struck Europe and the Mediterranean during the mid-1300s. The victims of the bubonic plague suffered from high fever, chills, headaches, exhaustion, and enlarged and swollen lymph nodes on the neck and groin areas. When the disease struck it killed people with terrible speed. Once the symptoms appeared, death occurred within two to three days. The plague had spread to France, London, Holland, Africa, Prussia, Britain, Norway, Italy and Russia; killing about a third and two thirds of Europe's population.
The origin of the plague was from the direct contact with fleas, which were transported by rats, cats, and dogs. It most commonly spread along the major trade routes, where the fleas and rats were aboard the trade ships. Later, when it was deciphered that the disease was being transported by dogs and cats, it was ordered that all dogs and cats were to be executed.
However, the plague accelerated. Then, by the 16th century, the doctors and government decided to start forcible quarantines of plague victims. It wasfirst believed that the disease mainly derived from the poorest, most crowded neighborhoods. Thus, when Italian physician, Girolamo Fracastoro, first explained the theory of the contagious disease, he assumed that it was the poor that were spreading the disease.
The effects of the plague were not only medically, but it began to stir up discrimination between the social classes, and religious backgrounds. Vicious attacks were set upon lepers, Jews, and outsiders who were accused of contaminating the water and air. Jews were rounded up and burned or drowned. The Roman Catholic Church, and most public officials tried to condemn and stop the massacres, however they were unsuccessful.
By the mid-1500 the plague became less common in Europe.