Without a doubt the greatest tragedy to ever hit Europe, greater than any war where man went against man... this was the war where man fought an enemy that he did not see and did not understand.
Some people blamed it on their livestock, others believed that it was a 'miasmas' of infected air that floated around, some said it was the wrath of an angry God against sin... they did not know. What had happened in fact, was that merchant men came from China, on the of-board their ships were rats, and those of course had fleas. These fleas were different though; they had bacillus. It only takes four to eight bacillus to kill a rat; a flea can transmit up to 24,000 in one bite... the merchants arrived in Italy, and the war began.
It is estimated that over one-third of Europe's population died in the 1300s... so many people falling victim to their unseen enemy. Many years later, in 1665, London had become a big and prosperous city. Housing was cramped, and there was nowhere to throw out trash and human waste. The only place to throw such things was the streets, making the perfect living and breeding conditions for rats.
People started dying of the plague, and those who had the right kind of money fled the infested city and moved to the country, where there was a much smaller chance of getting the disease. Before death, a person would experience a violent coughing fit, after which, death moved in to claim his victim. Many people were too weak to get to the coughing part even, and they would suffer a much quicker and more merciful death. It was the poor people of London who suffered the most from the plague, probably because of the fact that living conditions were perfect for the rat population in such areas.
People who became victims of the plague were locked into their houses with their entire family. The door would get a big red cross painted on it to tell everyone what happened, showing that the place was infected. Guards were placed at the doors of such houses to make sure that nobody came out of the house until the appropriate amount of time had gone by.
The families that had enough money had 'nurses' come to the house and bring food, although there are reports of these so-called nurses stealing more than anything else. There were really no qualified doctors or nurses in London at the time, because they had all left the city in an attempt to escape death. The doctors and nurses serving the people were nothing more than people hired to do a job that they were not qualified for, and that they had no way of winning.
So, it went on and on all that year in 1665, until winter came and brought some relief, because the rats had a much harder time surviving during the winter than in the summer. The disease was not fully taken care of, until the Great Fire of London that swept through the poor parts of the city, and cleansed away the dirt and filth. At the rebuilding of London, the streets were wider and there was a greater air of spaciousness. A battle had been fought and a war had been won. The people had won the battle against an unseen enemy. God was no longer pouring His wrath over the people of England, and they could live in peace and happiness.