Talk:Black Death

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Former good article Black Death was one of the Natural sciences good articles, but it has been removed from the list. There are suggestions below for improving the article to meet the good article criteria. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
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Edit request[edit]

Hello. Under DNA evidence, at the bottom, the following can be read: "The results of the Haensch study have since been confirmed [...]". This is very confusing. What is the Haensch study? The first time 'Haensch' is mentioned is in that sentence, so what is being referred to exactly? Is it the October 2010 study or the studies following it? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 83.109.232.26 (talk) 20:14, 18 October 2012 (UTC)

Yes it is the 2010 study, as shown in the References section. The Haensch paper is itself a confirmation of a number of other papers dating back to 2003 which were controversial in scientific terms, hence the enormous amount of work that has been done on the topic. Chris55 (talk) 12:02, 8 January 2013 (UTC)

Furthermore new evidence in London suggests that the plague was a pneumonic plague rather than a bubonic plague. For more information visit these two sources: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-26770334 http://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/mar/29/black-death-not-spread-rat-fleas-london-plague — Preceding unsigned comment added by 86.181.236.193 (talk) 18:41, 30 March 2014 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request[edit]

In the section "Migration" under the header "Populations in crisis"(in the second paragraph, second line), there is a piece of text that says (as of time of writing) '..., which increases susceptibility to infections due to weakened immunity.' it should say '..., which increased susceptibility to infections due to weakened immunity.' since the rest of the sentence is in the past tense and this word('increases') is in the present tense so the sentence is "under-going"(can't find a better word to describe it) tense-switching, which is a grammatical error. 82.47.40.66 (talk) 16:45, 28 June 2014 (UTC)

Pandemic focus of the article[edit]

The Black Death (1347-52) is generally regarded as the start of a second pandemic of plague which lasted right up to the 1840s. However the article has extended to the whole topic which I think is unfortunate for several reasons: the 14th century outbreak is important enough for a whole article; the nature of the symptoms and spread of the disease is significantly different in the initial outbreaks and the returns over the centuries; the rest of the pandemic is squashed into a single crammed section; and it marginalizes non-European aspects, particularly middle-eastern but also China.

I'd therefore suggest this article is cut right back to focus almost entirely on the first 14th century outbreak and the rest be moved to a new article Second plague pandemic which could refer back to this article. It could also include some of the detail in the section on Plague (disease) which is currently where the redirect links to. There is also a minor section in Bubonic plague which covers the same ground.

This would be a major editing job, which is why it's worth getting some agreement before starting. Chris55 (talk) 11:16, 2 August 2014 (UTC)

Chris55 - It would help if you would point out the sections you mean. It seems to me that the bulk of the article already focuses on the 14th century outbreak. I guess that your objection is to the section Recurrence. That section doesn't detract from the article and some readers may find it useful. Please expand on why you think there is a problem. Apuldram (talk) 12:27, 2 August 2014 (UTC)
Much of the Major outbreaks section as well as the Recurrence section. But my proposal also stems from the links in other articles: Second plague pandemic pointed to Black Death till I changed it, and the section in Bubonic plague still refers here as the main article. But you're right that most of the article isn't affected. It's more to do with creating a new article. Chris55 (talk) 13:10, 2 August 2014 (UTC)
I feel that the article would benefit from restructuring. Surely Symptoms and Causes should come before Migration, and Major outbreaks belongs with Recurrence. Apuldram (talk) 12:47, 2 August 2014 (UTC)
Yes, I agree - and speaking personally, the Major outbreaks section has been one of the disturbing factors that has prevented me trying. Without it, it will be easier. Chris55 (talk) 13:38, 2 August 2014 (UTC)

Your re-organisation of the article (4 August 2014) is a tremendous improvement. Congratulations. Apuldram (talk) 13:28, 5 August 2014 (UTC)

Ireland[edit]

Because of the "lock" on this article I note with caution only one point: "The Black Death" (1348 - 1349)also damaged the population of Ireland and Richard 11 in 1394 arrived and tried to revive things.[1]Osborne 14:56, 11 August 2014 (UTC)

Fair enough. Because of the obsessive attention to theories of the cause of the Black Death, the actual description of how it affected different countries has been reduced to a minimum and should be expanded. Chris55 (talk) 08:41, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
References
  1. ^ Mac Annaidh, S. 2013. Irish History. Parragon. ISBN 978-4723-2723-9

Copyright problem removed[edit]

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Poland[edit]

Blackdeath2.gif

It has been briefly discussed here in the talk page on a couple of different occasions, but it seems that no solid evidence has been presented to support the claims that Poland was able to escape the Black Death relatively unscathed. The spread map "File:Blackdeath2.gif" also reflects this assertion. However, other sources like this one by Ole Jørgen Benedictow make the claim that Poland was in fact impacted in a large way by the plague. Does anyone know of good sources that contradict this one? AdventurousSquirrel (talk) 13:20, 20 August 2014 (UTC)

I agree with your reading of Benedictow and it's one of the only Europe-wide modern treatments of the subject. The question is what do we do about the graphic? I removed Iceland earlier and could include Poland now (though my earlier edit caused Iceland to jump by one pixel and had to be corrected by others!) It's still the least problematic of several candidates. Chris55 (talk) 11:01, 21 September 2014 (UTC)

The significance of Caffa/Kaffa[edit]

Whether the question of possible biological warfare in the siege of Caffa should be in the lead/lede depends on its significance in the spread of the plague to Europe. Most commentators, such as Wheelis (2002) and Benedictow (2004) (see pp 50-53) are agreed that it is insignificant. Another example is Fossier in vol 3 of the Cambridge Illustrated History of the Middle Ages: "The Mongols may even have deliberately catapulted corpses of plague over the walls of Caffa, the Genoese depot in the Crimea, which they besieged in 1344. A minor detail." (p52-3)

I don't have access to the papers mentioned by Rjensen, but Wheelis gives a good translation of the account by de Mussis which is the sole source of the story. It has many problems. One of them is the assumption that the Mongols had a modern understanding of the idea of infection, something which was not understood in the west before the nineteenth century. Also dead plague bodies are not particularly infectious and it took a year for the disease to travel to Europe. There is evidence from Russian accounts that the plague was raging in the Golden Horde several years before the siege and this particular incidence may have been one of several routes the disease took. Modern DNA analysis hasn't yet even shown whether the epidemic came via the Steppes or by sea.

But the biggest problem of putting this in the lead is the implication that the horrendous consequences of 1348-51 were caused by a middle-eastern act of bioterrorism. This is almost certainly not the case. The disease was spreading fast in any case and there are multiple cases of sailors bringing it to Europe. Hence it does not deserve this prominence. By all means add these references in the appropriate place, but they don't deserve to be in the lead. Chris55 (talk) 10:08, 21 September 2014 (UTC)

I tend to agree with Chris55 here - it is probably too much detail for the lede - especially given that we cannot be sure that the catapult story was actually connected with the spread of plague. Ealdgyth - Talk 12:01, 21 September 2014 (UTC)
I also agree with Chris55 here - the BBC article makes it clear that the plague had already arrived in the Crimea with the Golden Horde before the alleged catapulting and that it didn't affect the spread of the disease. Apuldram (talk) 15:33, 21 September 2014 (UTC)
No that is against what Wheelis says. He argues that the plague spread westward through numerous channels and all came from the Mongols--not just through Caffa. He argues that the Mongols did engage in deliberate bioterrorism at Caffa (against the people inside). Furthermore he shows that contact with a dead body is a major means of transmission. That is a fact the Mongols could observe without any modern medicine--and it explains why they hurled the bodies inside. Wheelis writes: "Diseased cadavers hurled into the city could easily have transmitted plague, as defenders handled the cadavers during disposal. Contact with infected material is a known mechanism of transmission (8–11); for instance, among 284 cases of plague in the United States in 1970–1995 for which a mechanism of transmission could be reasonably inferred, 20% were thought to be by direct contact (24). Such transmission would have been especially likely at Caffa, where cadavers would have been badly mangled by being hurled, and many of the defenders probably had cut or abraded hands from coping with the bombardment." Rjensen (talk) 16:39, 21 September 2014 (UTC)
Have you read the statement at the end of Wheelis' first paragraph? "After analyzing these claims, I have concluded that it is plausible that the biological attack took place as described and was responsible for infecting the inhabitants of Caffa; however, the event was unimportant in the spread of the plague pandemic." It would seem that the walled town was the only place that there wasn't any plague at the time. Nor does he blame the Mongols for bringing the disease in the first place. Chris55 (talk) 17:23, 21 September 2014 (UTC)