The Black Plaque (bubonic plaque) which originated from China in the late 1340's was caused by the fleas on rodents. With the increase of trade also came the increase of the numbers affected by the disease, its estimated that the plaque eliminated between 25 and 50 percent of Europe's population and wiped out even more in the larger cities such as Italy and Rome. The black death impacted everything in a negative, depressing way and art was no contradiction to that, if anything it represented the darkness more than ever. The plaque left Europe with great cultural changes. In art, the changes were most extreme. Before the black death the noble lords were shown in full health, in their best clothes and armor, holding their swords. With death lurking around every corner killing off family members, loved ones, and killing everything in sight it was unrealistic to show things upbeat and hopeful. The church was more than ever involved because that is all people had to turn to in a time of need. The people's belief was that the church had the power to get you into heaven, it had the power to heal or save your souls. The church was everything to the community, the world, the churches power was stronger than ever and rich as ever with people tithing their way to heaven. With the churches growing income, came the ability to commission art work so they could keep the communities belief and interest in the church. Along with commissioned art work also came the ability to pay for the building of hospitals which were nothing more than a place to take the dying and tell them that they would be saved through the church and their good deeds. It had no impact in actually saving lives but it helped the churches bottom line and may have help people deal with the darkness of it all. The point is that with the black plaque came a reversal in growth for the nation and just made everything dark and depressing, but like they always say "you have to hit the bottom before you can move upward."
Stay Strong, and Stay True,