The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 75 to 200 million people and peaking in Europe in the years 1348–50. Although there were several competing theories as to the etiology of the Black Death, analysis of DNA from victims in northern and southern Europe published in 2010 and 2011 indicates that the pathogen responsible was the Yersinia pestis bacterium, probably causing several forms of plague.
The Black Death is thought to have originated in the arid plains of central Asia, where it then travelled along the Silk Road, reaching the Crimea by 1346. From there, it was most likely carried by Oriental rat fleas living on the black rats that were regular passengers on merchant ships. Spreading throughout the Mediterranean and Europe, the Black Death is estimated to have killed 30–60% of Europe's total population. All in all, the plague reduced the world population from an estimated 450 million down to 350–375 million in the 14th century.
The aftermath of the plague created a series of religious, social, and economic upheavals, which had profound effects on the course of European history. It took 150 years for Europe's population to recover. The plague recurred occasionally in Europe until the 19th century.
- 1 Overview
- 2 Migration
- 3 Symptoms
- 4 Causes
- 5 Consequences
- 6 Recurrence
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 Further reading
- 10 External links
There have been three major outbreaks of plague. The Plague of Justinian in the 6th and 7th centuries is the first known attack on record, and marks the first firmly recorded pattern of bubonic plague. From historical descriptions, as much as 40% of the population of Constantinople died from the plague. Modern estimates suggest half of Europe's population died as a result of the plague before it disappeared in the 700s. After 750 CE major epidemic diseases did not appear again in Europe until the Black Death of the 14th century. The Third Pandemic hit China in the 1890s and devastated India, but was confined to limited outbreaks in the west.
The Black Death originated in or near China and spread by way of the Silk Road or by ship. It may have reduced world population from an estimated 450 million down to 350–375 million by the year 1400.
The plague is thought to have returned at intervals with varying virulence and mortality until the 18th century. On its return in 1603, for example, the plague killed 38,000 Londoners. Other notable 17th-century outbreaks were the Italian Plague (1629–31); the Great Plague of Seville (1647–52); the Great Plague of London (1665–66); and the Great Plague of Vienna (1679). There is some controversy over the identity of the disease, but in its virulent form, after the Great Plague of Marseille in 1720–22, the Great Plague of 1738 (which hit Eastern Europe), and the Russian plague of 1770-1772, it seems to have gradually disappeared from Europe. By the early 19th century, the threat of plague had diminished, but it was quickly replaced by a new disease. The Asiatic cholera was the first of several cholera pandemics to sweep through Asia and Europe during the 19th and 20th centuries.
The 14th-century eruption of the Black Death had a drastic effect on Europe's population, irrevocably changing the social structure, and resulted in widespread persecution of minorities such as Jews, foreigners, beggars, and lepers (see Persecutions). The uncertainty of daily survival has been seen as creating a general mood of morbidity, influencing people to "live for the moment," as illustrated by Giovanni Boccaccio in The Decameron (1353).
Medieval people called the catastrophe of the 14th century either the "Great Pestilence"' or the "Great Plague". Writers contemporary to the plague referred to the event as the "Great Mortality". Swedish and Danish chronicles of the 17th century described the events as "black" for the first time, not to describe the late-stage sign of the disease, in which the sufferer's skin would blacken due to subepidermal hemorrhages and the extremities would darken with a form of gangrene, acral necrosis, but more likely to refer to black in the sense of glum or dreadful and to denote the terror and gloom of the events. Gasquet (1908) claimed that the Latin name "atra mors" (Black Death) for an epidemic first appeared in modern times in 1631 in a book on Danish history by J.I. Pontanus, where Pontanus wrote about a disease that occurred in 1348: "Vulgo & ab effectu atram mortem vocatibant." (Commonly and from [its] effects, they called [it] the black death.). However, Gasquet doubted that Pontanus was referring to bubonic plague. Nevertheless, the name spread through Scandinavia and then Germany. In England, it was not until 1823 that the medieval epidemic was first called the Black Death.
Populations in crisis
In Europe, the Medieval Warm Period ended sometime towards the end of the 13th century, with the climate turning towards the "Little Ice Age" and harsher winters with reduced harvests. In most of Europe, new technological innovations such as the heavy plough with an improved mouldboard and pulled by oxen or horses and the three-field system had had a major impact over the previous five centuries; they had opened up more intense cultivation of the heavy and fertile clay soils of northern and central Europe and helped increase population by many millions, especially in Germany, England and France. These agricultural innovations had also boosted productivity and population in the western Mediterranean basin, and by 1300, in much of western and southern Europe, the population was most likely outgrowing what could be sustained given the technological limits of the age.
Food shortages and rapidly inflating (or fluctuating) prices were becoming a fact of life in some parts of France and Italy by the early 14th century, and over the next hundred years this would spread and aggravate. Wheat, oats, hay and consequently livestock were all in short supply. Their scarcity resulted in malnutrition, which increases susceptibility to infections due to weakened immunity. Consistently high fertility rates, at five or more children per woman throughout Europe, had helped power high population growth rates and now contributed to these food shortages. In the autumn of 1314, heavy rains began to fall, followed by several years of cold and wet winters. The already weak harvests of the north suffered and the seven-year famine ensued. In the years 1315 to 1317, a catastrophic famine, known as the Great Famine, struck much of northwest Europe. It was the first major famine with this kind of severity in Europe for at least a hundred years.
Infection and migration
The plague disease, caused by Yersinia pestis, is enzootic (commonly present) in populations of fleas carried by ground rodents, including marmots, in various areas including Central Asia, Kurdistan, Western Asia, Northern India and Uganda. Nestorian graves dating to 1338–9 near Lake Issyk Kul in Kyrgizstan have inscriptions referring to plague and are thought by many epidemiologists to mark the outbreak of the epidemic, from which it could easily have spread to China and India. In October 2010, medical geneticists suggested that all three of the great waves of the plague originated in China. In China, the 13th century Mongol conquest caused a decline in farming and trading. However, economic recovery had been observed in the beginning of the 14th century. In the 1330s a high frequency of natural disasters and plagues led to widespread famine, starting in 1331, with a deadly plague arriving soon after. The 14th-century plague killed an estimated 25 million Chinese and other Asians during the 15 years before it entered Constantinople in 1347. However, according to George Sussman, the first obvious medical description of plague in China dates to 1644.
The disease may have travelled along the Silk Road with Mongol armies and traders or it could have come via ship. By the end of 1346, reports of plague had reached the seaports of Europe: "India was depopulated, Tartary, Mesopotamia, Syria, Armenia were covered with dead bodies".
Plague was reportedly first introduced to Europe at the trading city of Caffa in the Crimea in 1347. After a protracted siege, during which the Mongol army under Jani Beg was suffering the disease, the army catapulted the infected corpses over the city walls to infect the inhabitants. The Genoese traders fled, taking the plague by ship into Sicily and the south of Europe, whence it spread north. Whether or not this hypothesis is accurate, it is clear that several existing conditions such as war, famine, and weather contributed to the severity of the Black Death.
|'The seventh year after it began, it came to England and first began in the towns and ports joining on the seacoasts, in Dorsetshire, where, as in other counties, it made the country quite void of inhabitants so that there were almost none left alive.
... But at length it came to Gloucester, yea even to Oxford and to London, and finally it spread over all England and so wasted the people that scarce the tenth person of any sort was left alive.' (Geoffrey the Baker, Chronicon Angliae)
There appear to have been several introductions into Europe. The plague reached Sicily in October 1347, carried by twelve Genoese galleys, and rapidly spread all over the island. Galleys from Caffa reached Genoa and Venice in January 1348, but it was the outbreak in Pisa a few weeks later that was the entry point to northern Italy. Towards the end of January, one of the galleys expelled from Italy arrived in Marseille.
From Italy, the disease spread northwest across Europe, striking France, Spain, Portugal and England by June 1348, then turned and spread east through Germany and Scandinavia from 1348–50. It was introduced in Norway in 1349 when a ship landed at Askøy, then spread to Bjørgvin (modern Bergen)and Iceland. Finally it spread to northwestern Russia in 1351. The plague spared some parts of Europe, including the Kingdom of Poland, the majority of the Basque Country and isolated parts of Belgium and the Netherlands.
Middle Eastern outbreak
The plague struck various countries in the Middle East during the pandemic, leading to serious depopulation and permanent change in both economic and social structures. As it spread to western Europe, the disease entered the region from southern Russia also. By autumn 1347, the plague reached Alexandria in Egypt, probably through the port's trade with Constantinople, and ports on the Black Sea. During 1347, the disease travelled eastward to Gaza, and north along the eastern coast to cities in Lebanon, Syria and Palestine, including Ashkelon, Acre, Jerusalem, Sidon, Damascus, Homs, and Aleppo. In 1348–49, the disease reached Antioch. The city's residents fled to the north, most of them dying during the journey, but the infection had been spread to the people of Asia Minor.
Mecca became infected in 1349. During the same year, records show the city of Mawsil (Mosul) suffered a massive epidemic, and the city of Baghdad experienced a second round of the disease. In 1351 Yemen experienced an outbreak of the plague, coinciding with the return of King Mujahid of Yemen from imprisonment in Cairo. His party may have brought the disease with them from Egypt.
Contemporary accounts of the plague are often varied or imprecise. The most commonly noted symptom was the appearance of buboes (or gavocciolos) in the groin, the neck and armpits, which oozed pus and bled when opened. Boccaccio's description is graphic:
|“||In men and women alike it first betrayed itself by the emergence of certain tumours in the groin or armpits, some of which grew as large as a common apple, others as an egg...From the two said parts of the body this deadly gavocciolo soon began to propagate and spread itself in all directions indifferently; after which the form of the malady began to change, black spots or livid making their appearance in many cases on the arm or the thigh or elsewhere, now few and large, now minute and numerous. As the gavocciolo had been and still was an infallible token of approaching death, such also were these spots on whomsoever they showed themselves.||”|
Ziegler comments that the only medical detail that is questionable is the infallibility of approaching death, as if the bubo discharges, recovery is possible.
This was followed by acute fever and vomiting of blood. Most victims died two to seven days after initial infection. David Herlihy identifies another potential sign of the plague: freckle-like spots and rashes which could be caused by flea-bites.
Some accounts, like that of Louis Heyligen, a musician in Avignon who died of the plague in 1348, noted a distinct form of the disease which infected the lungs and led to respiratory problems and which is identified with pneumonic plague.
|“||It is said that the plague takes three forms. In the first people suffer an infection of the lungs, which leads to breathing difficulties. Whoever has this corruption or contamination to any extent cannot escape but will die within two days. Another form...in which boils erupt under the armpits,...a third form in which people of both sexes are attacked in the groin.||”|
Medical knowledge had stagnated during the Middle Ages. The most authoritative account at the time came from the medical faculty in Paris in a report to the king of France that blamed the heavens, in the form of a conjunction of three planets in 1345 that caused a "great pestilence in the air". This report became the first and most widely circulated of a series of "plague tracts" that sought to give advice to sufferers. That the plague was caused by bad air became the most widely accepted theory. The word plague had no special significance at this time, and only the recurrence of outbreaks during the Middle Ages gave it the name that has become the medical term.
The importance of hygiene was recognised only in the nineteenth century; until then it was common that the streets were filthy, with live animals of all sorts around and human parasites abounding. A transmissible disease will spread easily in such conditions. One development as a result of the Black Death was the establishment of the idea of quarantine in Dubrovnik in 1377 after continuing outbreaks.
The dominant explanation for the Black Death is the plague theory, which attributes the outbreak to Yersinia pestis, also responsible for an epidemic that began in southern China in 1865, eventually spreading to India. The investigation of the pathogen that caused the 19th-century plague was begun by teams of scientists who visited Hong Kong in 1894, among whom was the French-Swiss bacteriologist Alexandre Yersin, after whom the pathogen was named Yersinia pestis. The mechanism by which Y. pestis was usually transmitted was established in 1898 by Paul-Louis Simond and was found to involve the bites of fleas whose midguts had become obstructed by replicating Y. pestis several days after feeding on an infected host. This blockage results in starvation and aggressive feeding behaviour by the fleas, which repeatedly attempt to clear their blockage by regurgitation, resulting in thousands of plague bacteria being flushed into the feeding site, infecting the host. The bubonic plague mechanism was also dependent on two populations of rodents: one resistant to the disease, which act as hosts, keeping the disease endemic; and a second that lack resistance. When the second population dies, the fleas move on to other hosts, including people, thus creating a human epidemic.
The historian Francis Aidan Gasquet, who had written about the 'Great Pestilence' in 1893 and suggested that "it would appear to be some form of the ordinary Eastern or bubonic plague" was able to adopt the epidemiology of the bubonic plague for the Black Death for the second edition in 1908, implicating rats and fleas in the process, and his interpretation was widely accepted for other ancient and medieval epidemics, such as the Justinian plague that was prevalent in the Eastern Roman Empire from 541 to 700 CE.
More recently other forms of plague have been implicated. The modern bubonic plague has a mortality rate of 30–75% and symptoms including fever of 38–41 °C (100–106 °F), headaches, painful, aching joints, nausea and vomiting, and a general feeling of malaise. If untreated, of those that contract the bubonic plague, 80 percent die within eight days. Pneumonic plague has mortality rate of 90 to 95 percent. Symptoms include fever, cough, and blood-tinged sputum. As the disease progresses, sputum becomes free flowing and bright red. Septicemic plague is the least common of the three forms, with a mortality rate near 100%. Symptoms are high fevers and purple skin patches (purpura due to disseminated intravascular coagulation). In cases of pneumonic and particularly septicemic plague the progress of the disease is so rapid that there would often be no time for the development of the enlarged lymph nodes that were noted as buboes.
"Many modern scholars accept that the lethality of the Black Death stemmed from the combination of bubonic and pneumonic plague with other diseases and warn that every historical mention of 'pest' was not necessarily bubonic plague...In her study of 15th-century outbreaks, Ann Carmichael states that worms, the pox, fevers and dysentery clearly accompanied bubonic plague."
This interpretation was first significantly challenged by the work of British bacteriologist J. F. D. Shrewsbury in 1970, who noted that the reported rates of mortality in rural areas during the 14th-century pandemic were inconsistent with the modern bubonic plague, leading him to conclude that contemporary accounts were exaggerations. In 1984 zoologist Graham Twigg produced the first major work to challenge the bubonic plague theory directly, and his doubts about the identity of the Black Death have been taken up by a number of authors, including Samuel K. Cohn, Jr. (2002), David Herlihy (1997), and Susan Scott and Christopher Duncan (2001).
It is recognised that an epidemiological account of the plague is as important as an identification of symptoms, but researchers are hampered by the lack of reliable statistics from this period. Most work has been done on the spread of the plague in England, and even estimates of overall population at the start vary by over 100% as no census was undertaken between the time of publication of the Domesday Book and the year 1377. Estimates of plague victims are usually extrapolated from figures from the clergy.
In addition to arguing that the rat population was insufficient to account for a bubonic plague pandemic, sceptics of the bubonic plague theory point out that the symptoms of the Black Death are not unique (and arguably in some accounts may differ from bubonic plague); that transference via fleas in goods was likely to be of marginal significance and that the DNA results may be flawed and might not have been repeated elsewhere, despite extensive samples from other mass graves. Other arguments include the lack of accounts of the death of rats before outbreaks of plague between the 14th and 17th centuries; temperatures that are too cold in northern Europe for the survival of fleas; that, despite primitive transport systems, the spread of the Black Death was much faster than that of modern bubonic plague; that mortality rates of the Black Death appear to be very high; that, while modern bubonic plague is largely endemic as a rural disease, the Black Death indiscriminately struck urban and rural areas; and that the pattern of the Black Death, with major outbreaks in the same areas separated by 5 to 15 years, differs from modern bubonic plague—which often becomes endemic for decades with annual flare-ups.
Walløe complains that all of these authors "take it for granted that Simond's infection model, black rat → rat flea → human, which was developed to explain the spread of plague in India, is the only way an epidemic of Yersinia pestis infection could spread", whilst pointing to several other possibilities.
A variety of alternatives to the Y. pestis have been put forward. Twigg suggested that the cause was a form of anthrax and N. F. Cantor (2001) thought it may have been a combination of anthrax and other pandemics. Scott and Duncan have argued that the pandemic was a form of infectious disease that characterise as hemorrhagic plague similar to Ebola. Archaeologist Barney Sloane has argued that there is insufficient evidence of the extinction of large number of rats in the archaeological record of the medieval waterfront in London and that the plague spread too quickly to support the thesis that the Y. pestis was spread from fleas on rats and argues that transmission must have been person to person. However, no single alternative solution has achieved widespread acceptance. Many scholars arguing for the Y. pestis as the major agent of the pandemic suggest that its extent and symptoms can be explained by a combination of bubonic plague with other diseases, including typhus, smallpox and respiratory infections. In addition to the bubonic infection, others point to additional septicemic (a type of "blood poisoning") and pneumonic (an airborne plague that attacks the lungs before the rest of the body) forms of the plague, which lengthen the duration of outbreaks throughout the seasons and help account for its high mortality rate and additional recorded symptoms. In 2014, scientists with Public Health England annouced the results of an examination of 25 bodies exhumed from the Clerkenwell area of London, as well as of wills registered in London during the period, which supported the pneumonic hypothesis.
In October 2010, the open-access scientific journal PLoS Pathogens published a paper by a multinational team who undertook a new investigation into the role of Yersinia pestis in the Black Death following the disputed identification by Drancourt & Raoult in 1998. Their surveys tested for DNA and protein signatures specific for Y. pestis in human skeletons from widely distributed mass graves in northern, central and southern Europe that were associated archaeologically with the Black Death and subsequent resurgences. The authors concluded that this new research, together with prior analyses from the south of France and Germany
- "...ends the debate about the etiology of the Black Death, and unambiguously demonstrates that Y. pestis was the causative agent of the epidemic plague that devastated Europe during the Middle Ages."
The study also found that there were two previously unknown but related clades (genetic branches) of the Y. pestis genome associated with medieval mass graves. These clades (which are thought to be extinct) were found to be ancestral to modern isolates of the modern Y. pestis strains Y. p. orientalis and Y. p. medievalis, suggesting the plague may have entered Europe in two waves. Surveys of plague pit remains in France and England indicate the first variant entered Europe through the port of Marseille around November 1347 and spread through France over the next two years, eventually reaching England in the spring of 1349, where it spread through the country in three epidemics. Surveys of plague pit remains from the Dutch town of Bergen op Zoom showed the Y. pestis genotype responsible for the pandemic that spread through the Low Countries from 1350 differed from that found in Britain and France, implying Bergen op Zoom (and possibly other parts of the southern Netherlands) was not directly infected from England or France in 1349 and suggesting a second wave of plague, different from those in Britain and France, may have been carried to the Low Countries from Norway, the Hanseatic cities or another site.
The results of the Haensch study have since been confirmed and amended. Based on genetic evidence derived from Black Death victims in the East Smithfield burial site in England, Schuenemann et al. concluded in 2011 "that the Black Death in medieval Europe was caused by a variant of Y. pestis that may no longer exist." A study published in Nature in October 2011 sequenced the genome of Y. pestis from plague victims and indicated that the strain that caused the Black Death is ancestral to most modern strains of the disease.
DNA taken from 25 skeletons in London that died in the 14th century, have shown the plague is almost identical to that which hit Madagascar in 2013. 
Figures for the death toll vary widely by area and from source to source as new research and discoveries come to light. It killed an estimated 75 to 200 million people in the 14th century. According to medieval historian Philip Daileader in 2007:
The trend of recent research is pointing to a figure more like 45–50% of the European population dying during a four-year period. There is a fair amount of geographic variation. In Mediterranean Europe, areas such as Italy, the south of France and Spain, where plague ran for about four years consecutively, it was probably closer to 75–80% of the population. In Germany and England ... it was probably closer to 20%.
The most widely accepted estimate for the Middle East, including Iraq, Iran and Syria, during this time, is for a death rate of about a third. The Black Death killed about 40% of Egypt's population. Half of Paris's population of 100,000 people died. In Italy, Florence's population was reduced from 110–120 thousand inhabitants in 1338 down to 50 thousand in 1351. At least 60% of Hamburg's and Bremen's population perished, and a similar percentage of Londoners may have died from the disease as well. Before 1350, there were about 170,000 settlements in Germany, and this was reduced by nearly 40,000 by 1450. In 1348, the plague spread so rapidly that before any physicians or government authorities had time to reflect upon its origins, about a third of the European population had already perished. In crowded cities, it was not uncommon for as much as 50% of the population to die. Europeans living in isolated areas suffered less, whereas monks and priests were especially hard hit since they cared for the Black Death's victims.
Renewed religious fervor and fanaticism bloomed in the wake of the Black Death. Some Europeans targeted "various groups such as Jews, friars, foreigners, beggars, pilgrims", lepers and Romani, thinking that they were to blame for the crisis. Lepers, and other individuals with skin diseases such as acne or psoriasis, were singled out and exterminated throughout Europe.
Because 14th-century healers were at a loss to explain the cause, Europeans turned to astrological forces, earthquakes, and the poisoning of wells by Jews as possible reasons for the plague's emergence. The governments of Europe had no apparent response to the crisis because no one knew its cause or how it spread. The mechanism of infection and transmission of diseases was little understood in the 14th century; many people believed only God's anger could produce such horrific displays.
There were many attacks against Jewish communities. In August 1349, the Jewish communities of Mainz and Cologne were exterminated. In February of that same year, the citizens of Strasbourg murdered 2,000 Jews. By 1351, 60 major and 150 smaller Jewish communities were destroyed.
The Black Death had a profound impact on art and literature throughout the generation that experienced it. Many of the most useful manifestations of the Black Death in literature, to historians, come from the accounts of its chroniclers. Some of these chroniclers were famous writers, philosophers and rulers such as Boccaccio and Petrarch. Their writings, however, did not reach the majority of the European population. Petrarch's work was read mainly by wealthy nobles and merchants of Italian city-states. He wrote hundreds of letters and vernacular poetry, and passed on to later generations a revised interpretation of courtly love. There was one troubadour, writing in the lyric style long out of fashion, who was active in 1348. Peire Lunel de Montech composed the sorrowful sirventes "Meravilhar no·s devo pas las gens" during the height of the plague in Toulouse.
They died by the hundreds, both day and night, and all were thrown in ... ditches and covered with earth. And as soon as those ditches were filled, more were dug. And I, Agnolo di Tura ... buried my five children with my own hands ... And so many died that all believed it was the end of the world.—The Plague in Siena: An Italian Chronicle
How many valiant men, how many fair ladies, breakfast with their kinfolk and the same night supped with their ancestors in the next world! The condition of the people was pitiable to behold. They sickened by the thousands daily, and died unattended and without help. Many died in the open street, others dying in their houses, made it known by the stench of their rotting bodies. Consecrated churchyards did not suffice for the burial of the vast multitude of bodies, which were heaped by the hundreds in vast trenches, like goods in a ships hold and covered with a little earth.—Giovanni Boccaccio
The plague repeatedly returned to haunt Europe and the Mediterranean throughout the 14th to 17th centuries. According to Biraben, plague was present somewhere in Europe in every year between 1346 and 1671. The Second Pandemic was particularly widespread in the following years: 1360–63; 1374; 1400; 1438–39; 1456–57; 1464–66; 1481–85; 1500–03; 1518–31; 1544–48; 1563–66; 1573–88; 1596–99; 1602–11; 1623–40; 1644–54; and 1664–67. Subsequent outbreaks, though severe, marked the retreat from most of Europe (18th century) and northern Africa (19th century). According to Geoffrey Parker, "France alone lost almost a million people to plague in the epidemic of 1628–31."
In England, in the absence of census figures, historians propose a range of preincident population figures from as high as 7 million to as low as 4 million in 1300, and a postincident population figure as low as 2 million. By the end of 1350, the Black Death subsided, but it never really died out in England. Over the next few hundred years, further outbreaks occurred in 1361–62, 1369, 1379–83, 1389–93, and throughout the first half of the 15th century. An outbreak in 1471 took as much as 10–15% of the population, while the death rate of the plague of 1479–80 could have been as high as 20%. The most general outbreaks in Tudor and Stuart England seem to have begun in 1498, 1535, 1543, 1563, 1589, 1603, 1625, and 1636, and ended with the Great Plague of London in 1665.
In 1466, perhaps 40,000 people died of plague in Paris. During the 16th and 17th centuries, plague visited Paris for almost one year out of every three. The Black Death ravaged Europe for three years before it continued on into Russia, where the disease hit somewhere once every five or six years from 1350 to 1490. Plague epidemics ravaged London in 1563, 1593, 1603, 1625, 1636, and 1665, reducing its population by 10 to 30% during those years. Over 10% of Amsterdam's population died in 1623–25, and again in 1635–36, 1655, and 1664. There were 22 outbreaks of plague in Venice between 1361 and 1528. The plague of 1576–77 killed 50,000 in Venice, almost a third of the population. Late outbreaks in central Europe included the Italian Plague of 1629–1631, which is associated with troop movements during the Thirty Years' War, and the Great Plague of Vienna in 1679. Over 60% of Norway's population died in 1348–50. The last plague outbreak ravaged Oslo in 1654.
In the first half of the 17th century, a plague claimed some 1.7 million victims in Italy, or about 14% of the population. In 1656, the plague killed about half of Naples' 300,000 inhabitants. More than 1.25 million deaths resulted from the extreme incidence of plague in 17th-century Spain. The plague of 1649 probably reduced the population of Seville by half. In 1709–13, a plague epidemic that followed the Great Northern War (1700–21, Sweden v. Russia and allies) killed about 100,000 in Sweden, and 300,000 in Prussia. The plague killed two-thirds of the inhabitants of Helsinki, and claimed a third of Stockholm's population. Europe's last major epidemic occurred in 1720 in Marseille.
The Black Death ravaged much of the Islamic world. Plague was present in at least one location in the Islamic world virtually every year between 1500 and 1850. Plague repeatedly struck the cities of North Africa. Algiers lost 30 to 50 thousand inhabitants to it in 1620–21, and again in 1654–57, 1665, 1691, and 1740–42. Plague remained a major event in Ottoman society until the second quarter of the 19th century. Between 1701 and 1750, thirty-seven larger and smaller epidemics were recorded in Constantinople, and an additional thirty-one between 1751 and 1800. Baghdad has suffered severely from visitations of the plague, and sometimes two-thirds of its population has been wiped out.
Third plague pandemic
The Third plague pandemic (1855–1959) started in China in the middle of the 19th century, spreading to all inhabited continents and killing 10 million people in India alone. Twelve plague outbreaks in Australia in 1900–25 resulted in well over 1,000 deaths, chiefly in Sydney. This led to the establishment of a Public Health Department there which undertook some leading-edge research on plague transmission from rat fleas to humans via the bacillus Yersinia pestis.
The first North American plague epidemic was the San Francisco plague of 1900–1904, followed by another outbreak in 1907–08. From 1944 through 1993, 362 cases of human plague were reported in the United States; approximately 90% occurred in four western states: Arizona, California, Colorado, and New Mexico. Plague was confirmed in the United States from 9 western states during 1995. Currently, 5 to 15 people in the United States are estimated to catch the disease each year—typically in western states.
- Black Death (film)
- Black Death in England
- CCR5, a human gene hypothesised to be associated with the plague
- Cronaca fiorentina, Chronicle of Florence 14th century Black Death by Baldassarre Bonaiuti
- Crisis of the Late Middle Ages
- Danse Macabre
- Four Thieves Vinegar, a popular French legend says this recipe provided immunity to the plague.
- Globalization and disease
- Plague doctor
- Plague doctor costume
- Ring a Ring o' Roses
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- "Plague – LoveToKnow 1911". 1911encyclopedia.org. Retrieved 3 November 2008.
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- "Plague History Provence, – by Provence Beyond". Beyond.fr. Retrieved 3 November 2008.
- "Cholera's seven pandemics". CBC News. 2 December 2008.
- "Boccaccio: The Decameron, "Introduction"". Fordham.edu. Retrieved 10 December 2011.
- J. M. Bennett and C. W. Hollister, Medieval Europe: A Short History (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2006), p. 326.
- In 1350, Simon de Covino (or Couvin), a Belgian astronomer, wrote the poem "De judicio Solis in convivio Saturni" (On the judgment of the Sun at a feast of Saturn) in which he attributed the plague to a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn.
- On page 22 of the manuscript in Gallica, Simon mentions the phrase "mors nigra" (Black Death): "Cum rex finisset oracula judiciorum / Mors nigra surrexit, et gentes reddidit illi;" (When the king ended the oracles of judgment / Black Death arose, and the nations surrendered to him;).
- A more legible copy of the poem appears in: Emile Littré (1841) "Opuscule relatif à la peste de 1348, composé par un contemporain" (Work concerning the plague of 1348, composed by a contemporary), Bibliothèque de l'école des chartes, 2 (2) : 201-243; see especially page 228.
- See also: Joseph Patrick Byrne, The Black Death (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2004), page 1.
- Francis Aidan Gasquet, The Black Death of 1348 and 1349, 2nd ed. (London, England: George Bell and Sons, 1908), page 7.
- Johan Isaksson Pontanus, Rerum Danicarum Historia ... (Amsterdam (Netherlands): Johann Jansson, 1631), page 476.
- D'Irsay points out that the phrase "black death" dates back at least to Homer's Odyssey, where Homer said that Scylla's mouth contained rows of teeth πλείοι μέλανος θανάτοιο (full of black death). Many Roman authors also used the phrase. The medieval French physician Gilles de Corbeil (ca. 1140 - (1200-1225)) in his De signis et sinthomatibus egritudinum (On the signs and symptoms of diseases) referred to a pestilential fever (febris pestilentialis) as "atra mors" (black death). See: Stephen d'Irsay (May 1926) "Notes to the origin of the expression: atra mors," Isis, 8 (2) : 328-332.
- The German physician Justus Hecker (1795-1850) cited the phrase in Icelandic (Svartur Daudi), Danish (den sorte Dod), etc. See: J.F.C. Hecker, Der schwarze Tod im vierzehnten Jahrhundert [The Black Death in the Fourteenth Century] (Berlin, (Germany): Friedr. Aug. Herbig, 1832), page 3.
- The name "Black Death" first appeared in English in:
- "Mrs. Markham" (pen name of Elizabeth Penrose (née Cartwright)), A History of England ... (Edinburgh, Scotland: Archibald Constable, 1823). In the 1829 edition, the relevant text appeared on pages 249-250, where, about the English king Edward III, she wrote: "Edward's successes in France were interrupted during the next six years by a most terrible pestilence — so terrible as to be called the black death — which raged throughout Europe, and proved a greater scourge to the people than even the calamities of war." (For further information about this book and Mrs. Penrose, see: Wikisource and the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography).
- See also: J. L. Bolton, "Looking for Yersinia pestis: Scientists, Historians and the Black Death" in: Linda Clark and Carole Rawcliffe, ed.s, The Fifteenth Century XII: Society in an Age of Plague (Woodbridge, England: Boydell Press, 2013), page 15.
- World Regions in Global Context Third Edition
- Lynn White, Jr., Medieval Technology and Social Change (Oxford: University Press, 1962), p. 42
- Jean Gimpel,The Medieval Machine, ch.2 (Futura Publications, UK, 1979)
- Lynn White, Jr, ibid 1962
- Ziegler 1998, p. 25
- Raoult; Drancourt (2008). Paleomicrobiology: Past Human Infections. Springer. p. 152.
- The Cambridge History of China: Alien regimes and border states, 907–1368, p.585
- Kohn, George C. (2008). Encyclopedia of plague and pestilence: from ancient times to the present. Infobase Publishing. p. 31. ISBN 0-8160-6935-2.
- Sussman, GD (2011). "Was the black death in India and China?". Bulletin of the history of medicine 85 (3): 319–55. doi:10.1353/bhm.2011.0054. PMID 22080795.
- "Black Death may have originated in China". The Daily Telegraph. 1 November 2010.
- Hecker 1859, p. 21 cited by Ziegler, p. 15.
- "Channel 4 – History – The Black Death". Channel 4. Archived from the original on 25 June 2008. Retrieved 3 November 2008.
- Michael of Piazza (Platiensis) Bibliotheca scriptorum qui res in Sicilia gestas retulere Vol 1, p. 562, cited in Ziegler, 1998, p. 40.
- De Smet, Vol II, Breve Chronicon, p. 15.
- Gunnar Karlsson (2000). Iceland's 1100 years: the history of a marginal society. London:C. Hurst. p. 111. ISBN 978-1-85065-420-9.
- Byrne 2004, pp. 21–9
- Giovanni Boccaccio (1351/3). Decameron.
- Ziegler 1998, p. 18,19
- D. Herlihy, The Black Death and the Transformation of the West (Harvard University Press: Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1997), p. 29.
- Horrox, Rosemary (1994). Black Death. ISBN 978-0-7190-3498-5.
- "Plague Backgrounder". Avma.org. Archived from the original on 16 May 2008. Retrieved 3 November 2008.
- Horrox 1994, p. 159
- Sehdev, Paul S. (2002). "The Origin of Quarantine". Clinical Infectious Diseases 35 (9): 1071–1072. doi:10.1086/344062. PMID 12398064.
- G. Christakos, Interdisciplinary Public Health Reasoning and Epidemic Modelling: the Case of Black Death (シュプリンガー・ジャパン株式会社, 2005), ISBN 3-540-25794-2, pp. 110–14.
- Gasquet 1893
- R. Totaro, Suffering in Paradise: The Bubonic Plague in English Literature from More to Milton (Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 2005), p. 26.
- Byrne 2004, p. 8
- Byrne 2004, p. 27 quoting Ann Carmichael (1986). Plague legislation. pp. 515–6.
- Ziegler 1998, p. 233
- Walloe, Lars (2008). Vivian Nutton, ed. Medieval and Modern Bubonic Plague: some clinical continuities. Pestilential Complexities: Understanding Medieval Plague. Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at UCL. p. 69.
- M. Kennedy. "Black Death study lets rats off the hook". The Guardian (London: The History Press Ltd). ISBN 0-7524-2829-2..
- B. Slone. The Black Death in London. London: The History Press Ltd. ISBN 0-7524-2829-2..
- Thorpe, Vanessa (29 March 2014). "Black death was not spread by rat fleas, say researchers". theguardian.com. Retrieved 29 March 2014.
- Drancourt, M., Aboudharam, G., Signoli, M., Dutour, O. & Raoult, D. (1998). "Detection of 400-year-old Yersinia pestis DNA in human dental pulp: an approach to the diagnosis of ancient septicemia". Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 95 (21): 12637–12640. doi:10.1073/pnas.95.21.12637. PMC 22883. PMID 9770538. see alsoMichel Drancourt; Didier Raoult (2004). "Molecular detection of Yersinia pestis in dental pulp". Microbiology 150 (2): 263–264. doi:10.1099/mic.0.26885-0.
- Haensch, Stephanie; Bianucci, Raffaella; Signoli, Michel; Rajerison, Minoarisoa; Schultz, Michael; Kacki, Sacha; Vermunt, Marco; Weston, Darlene A.; Hurst, Derek; Achtman, Mark; Carniel, Elisabeth; Bramanti, Barbara (2010). "Distinct Clones of Yersinia pestis Caused the Black Death". In Besansky, Nora J. PLoS Pathogens 6 (10): e1001134. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1001134. PMC 2951374. PMID 20949072.
- Schuenemann VJ, Bos K, DeWitte S, Schmedes S, Jamieson J, Mittnik A, Forrest S, Coombes BK, Wood JW, Earn DJD, White W, Krause J, Poinar H (2011): Targeted enrichment of ancient pathogens yielding the pPCP1 plasmid of Yersinia pestis from victims of the Black Death. PNAS 2011; published ahead of print 29 August 2011, doi:10.1073/pnas.1105107108
- Philip Daileader, The Late Middle Ages, audio/video course produced by The Teaching Company, (2007) ISBN 978-1-59803-345-8.
- Q&A by Kathryn Jean Lopez (14 September 2005). "Q&A with John Kelly on The Great Mortality on National Review Online". Nationalreview.com. Retrieved 10 December 2011.
- Egypt – Major Cities, U.S. Library of Congress
- Snell, Melissa (2006). "The Great Mortality". Historymedren.about.com. Retrieved 19 April 2009.
- Richard Wunderli (1992). Peasant Fires: The Drummer of Niklashausen. Indiana University Press. p. 52. ISBN 0-253-36725-5.
- J. M. Bennett and C. W. Hollister, Medieval Europe: A Short History (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2006), p. 329.
- David Nirenberg, Communities of Violence, 1998, ISBN 0-691-05889-X.
- R.I. Moore The Formation of a Persecuting Society, Oxford, 1987 ISBN 0-631-17145-2
- Black Death, Jewishencyclopedia.com
- "Jewish History 1340–1349".
- J. M. Bennett and C. W. Hollister, Medieval Europe: A Short History (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2006), p. 372.
- "Plague readings". University of Arizona. Retrieved 3 November 2008.
- Quotes from the Plague
- Black Death skeletons unearthed by Crossrail project
- "The Great Plague". Stephen Porter (2009). Amberley Publishing. p.25. ISBN 1-84868-087-2
- J. N. Hays (1998). "The burdens of disease: epidemics and human response in western history.". p 58. ISBN 0-8135-2528-4
- "Epidemics and pandemics: their impacts on human history". J. N. Hays (2005). p.46. ISBN 1-85109-658-2
- Geoffrey Parker (2001). "Europe in crisis, 1598–1648". Wiley-Blackwell. p.7. ISBN 0-631-22028-3
- The Black Death in Egypt and England: A Comparative Study, Stuart J. Borsch, Austin: University of Texas
- Secondary sources such as the Cambridge History of Medieval England often contain discussions of methodology in reaching these figures that are necessary reading for anyone wishing to understand this controversial episode in more detail.
- "BBC – History – Black Death". BBC. p. 131. Retrieved 3 November 2008.
- Gottfried, Robert S. (1983). The Black Death: Natural and Human Disaster in Medieval Europe. London: Hale. ISBN 0-7090-1299-3.
- "BBC – Radio 4 Voices of the Powerless – 29 August 2002 Plague in Tudor and Stuart Britain". BBC. Retrieved 3 November 2008.
- Plague, 1911 Edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica
- Vanessa Harding (2002). "The dead and the living in Paris and London, 1500–1670.". p.25. ISBN 0-521-81126-0
- Byrne 2004, p. 62
- Vanessa Harding (2002). "The dead and the living in Paris and London, 1500–1670.". p.24. ISBN 0-521-81126-0
- "Plague in London: spatial and temporal aspects of mortality", J. A. I. Champion, Epidemic Disease in London, Centre for Metropolitan History Working Papers Series, No. 1 (1993).
- Geography, climate, population, economy, society. J.P.Sommerville.
- "Crisis and Change in the Venetian Economy in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries". Brian Pullan. (2006). p.151. ISBN 0-415-37700-5
- "Medicine and society in early modern Europe". Mary Lindemann (1999). Cambridge University Press. p.41. ISBN 0-521-42354-6
- Harald Aastorp (1 August 2004). "Svartedauden enda verre enn antatt". Forskning.no. Retrieved 3 January 2009.
- Øivind Larsen. "DNMS.NO : Michael: 2005 : 03/2005 : Book review: Black Death and hard facts". Dnms.no. Retrieved 3 November 2008.
- Karl Julius Beloch, Bevölkerungsgeschichte Italiens, volume 3, pp. 359–360.
- "Naples in the 1600s". Faculty.ed.umuc.edu. Retrieved 3 November 2008.
- The Seventeenth-Century Decline, S. G. Payne, A History of Spain and Portugal
- "Armies of pestilence: the effects of pandemics on history". James Clarke & Co. (2004). p.72. ISBN 0-227-17240-X
- "Kathy McDonough, Empire of Poland". Depts.washington.edu. Retrieved 3 November 2008.
- "Bubonic plague in early modern Russia: public health and urban disaster". John T. Alexander (2002). Oxford University Press US. p.21. ISBN 0-19-515818-0
- "Ruttopuisto – Plague Park". Tabblo.com. Retrieved 3 November 2008.
- "Stockholm: A Cultural History". Tony Griffiths (2009). Oxford University Press US. p.9. ISBN 0-19-538638-8
- "The Islamic World to 1600: The Mongol Invasions (The Black Death)". Ucalgary.ca. Retrieved 10 December 2011.
- Byrne, Joseph Patrick (2008). Encyclopedia of Pestilence, Pandemics, and Plagues: A-M. ABC-CLIO. p. 519. ISBN 0-313-34102-8.
- "Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters: White Slavery in the Mediterranean, the Barbary Coast and Italy, 1500–1800". Robert Davis (2004) ISBN 1-4039-4551-9.
- Université de Strasbourg. Institut de turcologie, Université de Strasbourg. Institut d'études turques, Association pour le développement des études turques. (1998). Turcica. Éditions Klincksieck. p. 198.
- "The Fertile Crescent, 1800–1914: a documentary economic history". Charles Philip Issawi (1988). Oxford University Press US. p.99. ISBN 0-19-504951-9
- Infectious Diseases: Plague Through History, sciencemag.org
- Bubonic Plague comes to Sydney in 1900, University of Sydney, Sydney Medical School
- Chase, Marilyn (2004). The Barbary Plague: The Black Death in Victorian San Francisco. Random House Digital. ISBN 0-375-75708-2.
Echenberg, Myron (2007). Plague Ports: The Global Urban Impact of Bubonic Plague: 1894–1901. Sacramento: New York University Press. ISBN 0-8147-2232-6.
Kraut, Alan M. (1995). Silent travelers: germs, genes, and the "immigrant menace". JHU Press. ISBN 0-8018-5096-7.
Markel, Howard (2005). When Germs Travel: Six Major Epidemics That Have Invaded America And the Fears They Have Unleashed. Random House Digital. ISBN 0-375-72602-0.
Kalisch, Philip A. (Summer 1972). "The Black Death in Chinatown: Plague and Politics in San Francisco 1900–1904". Arizona and the West (Journal of the Southwest) 14 (2): 113–136. JSTOR 40168068.
Risse, Guenter B. (2012). "Bubonic Plague Visits San Francisco's Chinatown". Plague, Fear, and Politics in San Francisco's Chinatown. JHU Press. ISBN 1-4214-0510-5.
Shah, Nayan (2001). Contagious divides: Epidemics and race in San Francisco's Chinatown. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-22629-1.
- Human Plague – United States, 1993–1994, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Madon, M. B.; Hitchcock, J. C.; Davis, R. M.; Myers, C. M.; Smith, C. R.; Fritz, C. L.; Emery, K. W.; O'Rullian, W. (1997). "An overview of plague in the United States and a report of investigations of two human cases in Kern county, California, 1995". Journal of vector ecology : journal of the Society for Vector Ecology 22 (1): 77–82. PMID 9221742.
- "Oregon man suffering from the plague is in critical condition". Daily News (New York). 12 June 2012.
- Oregon Man to Lose Fingers From Black Plague, 'Lucky' to Be Alive
- Drug-resistant plague a 'major threat', say scientists, SciDev.Net.
- Byrne, J. P. (2004). The Black Death. London: Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 0-313-32492-1.
- Cantor, Norman F. (2001), In the Wake of the Plague: The Black Death and the World It Made, New York, Free Press.
- Cohn, Samuel K. Jr., (2002), The Black Death Transformed: Disease and Culture in Early Renaissance Europe, London: Arnold.
- Gasquet, Francis Aidan (1893). The Great Pestilence AD 1348 to 1349: Now Commonly Known As the Black Death. ISBN 978-1-4179-7113-8.
- Hecker, J.F.C. (1859). B.G. Babington(trans), ed. Epidemics of the Middle Ages. London, Trübner.
- Herlihy, D., (1997), The Black Death and the Transformation of the West, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
- McNeill, William H. (1976). Plagues and Peoples. Anchor/Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-11256-4.
- Scott, S., and Duncan, C. J., (2001), Biology of Plagues: Evidence from Historical Populations, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Shrewsbury, J. F. D., (1970), A History of Bubonic Plague in the British Isles, London: Cambridge University Press
- Twigg, G., (1984), The Black Death: A Biological Reappraisal, London: Batsford.
- Ziegler, Philip (1998). The Black Death. Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0-14-027524-7. 1st editions 1969.
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