Black Death in the Great Mongol Empire and Europe


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D. A Henderson, a prominent epidemiologist, stated that “Dropping anatomic bomb could cause casualties in a specific area, but dropping smallpox could engulf the world.’ Epidemics are so powerful and could wipe out an entire population in a matter of months. In the 1300s, around 80 million people on three continents perished due to the black death. Diseases like smallpox and the black plague spread quickly because of their long incubation period and human migration. Even though the black death was transmitted from rodents to humans by the bite of infected fleas, the main vector for the spread of the disease was globalization. The expansion trade routes and roads led more communication between different empires which made it easier for the black death to spread rapidly. Endemics existed before but were usually contained in one area. However, new modes of transportation and the expansion of big empires like the Mongolian empire facilitated the spread of the plague. In this essay, I’ll discuss how globalization led to the spread of Black Death through the great Mongol Empire and Europe.

Globalization can develop and hinder a society at the same time. The Mongolian empire grew strong with trade because they made the silk road a safe place to trade and travel without getting robbed through the yams system. This increased communication along the silk road was also damaging to the empire because it came with a disease that killed so many people. The black plague survives in “underground” cities of burrowing rodents, especially marmots and “great Gerbil” . The primary route of transmission was the Silk Road, which was controlled by the Mongols. The silk road had varying types of climate that were suitable for the fleas and rodents. They began to move out of dry grasslands to more populated areas spreading the disease. From city to city , the Black Plague wiped out a lot of the population under mongolian rule. The reason the disease spread rapidly was because the mongol empire was big and connected through roads and a lot of traders and soldiers traveled from city to city — Globalization. Travelers would accidentally eat infected marmots to relieve their hunger and get infected. Also, The black death killed a lot of Mongolian soldiers because it spread rapidly in the cramped siege camps. Further, the large empire meant it was hard to control the diseases, and the long incubation period didn’t help because affected individuals might unintentionally transmit the disease while traveling.

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As it became more common for people to travel, it also becomes easier for the disease to travel with them. An outbreak in one region that would have otherwise been contained can easily move into other uninfected regions. The Mongolian soldiers spread the disease to Europe both intentionally and unintentionally. During the siege of Kaffa in 1347, the Mongols intentionally launched bodies of dead infected soldiers into the city. Genoese Traders fleeing the besieged city Kaffa unintentionally brought the plague to other parts of Europe. Since the incubation period is long, they boarded the ship without knowing that they were infected. Boats were cramped, so the plague spread quickly. Theinhabitants welcomed the infected without considering the dangers of the disease. By the time they figured it was the black death, the disease spread through most of Europe.

Diseases spread more quickly among people who live in close proximity to each other. In The Making of a Metropolis, the authors mention that “Plague was a metropolitan problem”. In London, People lived “in the most dilapidated overcrowded houses”. More frequent contact between more individuals, allowed the disease to spread like fire. It would be unlikely for it to spread as fast if it was transmitted solely by rats because it would have been impossible for them to infect such a large population in little time.Hince, the real vector must have been man: the spike of the disease “in certain nearby towns and villages coincided with the arrival of travelers on foot or horseback”. Multiple factors contributed to the spread throughout England and Europe. First, it was people fleeing to small towns and other countries to escape the black plague brought the disease along. Also, some “people in the most dilapidated overcrowded houses with fewest changes of clothing” . Therefore, this allowed the fleas to thrive in the houses and also easily transmit from one person to another Additionally, “repeatedly exposed to disease, the threatens to become the source of contagion rather than the seeker of it. The searches also transmitted it to their families who transmitted the disease to the neighborhood. For instance, “Three of Bristowe’s children had died in late 1592 after she had first been appointed as a searcher.”. Finally, People also wandered around disobeying the governments’ command which further spread the disease.

Overall, trade routes such as the Silk Road and the big, connected monogolian Empire allowed for rapid spread of the plague. Globalization would facilitate the spread of the disease because people are traveling from one place to another unintentionally. Learning about the impact of globalization on diseases is scary because we are more connected than the middle ages. Epidemics can spread easily through airplanes. However, that is not to say that we should panic epidemics arise. We have to realize our technology, health care system, and research are much advanced than before. Professionals around the world could easily communicate and try to have the disease under control. For instance, smallpox was a deadly disease, but after years of hard work, the doctors believe that they have fully eradicated the virus from the world. Therefore, even if the disease might arise in the future, we must not lose hope since there are centers like CDC around the world studying major diseases. Also, have well-trained health professionals around the world.

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