There was continued diffusion of crops and pathogens, with epidemic diseases, including the bubonic plague, along trade routes.
Diffusion of crops:
Trade Routes - Spreading Disease!
Not just goods traveled along these trade routes – diseases traveled as well!
People were exposed to unfamiliar diseases for which they had little immunity (thanks to increased trade)
Smallpox & measles devastated populations in both Rome and Han China contributing to their collapse
Diseases may have increased appeal of Christianity in Europe & Buddhism in China – both offer compassion in face of suffering
Effects of the Plague
Decline of urbanization and trade
Ultimate demise of the Mongol empire 100 years after its creation
Peasant revolts undermined serfdom and the feudal system
Labor shortage may have fostered a greater interest in technological innovation to avoid paying higher wages
Disruption of Mongol-based land routes to the east and desire to avoid Muslim intermediaries gave Europeans an incentive to take to the sea
Europeans became the “new Mongols” in the Indian Ocean, connecting and facilitating trade in the 1450-1750 time period.
First Hand Document - Gabriele De’Mussis
“When they returned to their own folk, these people speedily poisoned the whole family, and within three days the afflicted family would succumb to the dart of death. Mass funerals had to be held and there was not enough room to bury the growing numbers of dead. Priests and doctors, upon whom most of the care of the sick devolved, had their hands full in visiting and followed the dead immediately to the grave.”
“And when the sick are in the throes of death, they still called out piteously to their family and neighbors, ‘Come here. I’m thirsty, bring me a drink of water. I’m still alive. Don’t be frightened. Perhaps I won’t die. Please hold me tight, hug my wasted body. You ought to be holding me in your arms.’ At this, as everyone else kept their distance, somebody might take pity and leave a candle burning by the bed head as he fled. And when the victim had breathed his last, it was often the mother who shrouded her son and placed him in the coffin, or the husband who did the same for his wife, for everyone else refused to touch the dead body . . .”
“Let all creation tremble with fear before the judgment of God. Let human frailty submit to its creator. May a greater grief be kindled in all hearts, and tears well up in all eyes as future ages hear what happened in this disaster. When one person lay sick in a house no one would come near. Even dear friends would hide themselves away, weeping. The physician would not visit. The priest, panic-stricken, administered the sacraments with fear and trembling.”
Spread of Rice Varieties