Black Plague Facts

Black Plague Facts
The Black Plague, also known as the Black Death, was a plague that spread through the Mediterranean and Europe in the 14th century, killing an estimated 75 to 200 million people. Its origins have been debated, but many believe it began in Central Asia and was carried to Europe by rat fleas on merchant ships. Another theory is that the plague traveled via traders or Mongol armies along the Silk Road, and it may have killed as many as 25 million Asians and Chinese before reaching Europe. Modern DNA analysis of the Black Plague performed on the remains of some of its victims has shown that the bacterium responsible for the deaths of between 30 to 60% of Europe's population in the 1300s was Yersinia pestis.
Interesting Black Plague Facts:
The Black Plague occurred in Europe beginning in 1348 and ending in 1351. Some have estimated the total loss of life in Europe at the time to be as high as 60% of the population.
During the Black Plague it was not called the Black Plague. It was referred to as 'the Pestilence' or 'the Great Mortality.'
Although the majority of deaths due to the Black Plague occurred between 1348 and 1351, outbreaks continued until the 1400s. The death tolls with these outbreaks were not as high.
For two years prior to the Black Plague's outbreak in Europe, crops had been poor due to bad weather, and food was scarce.
When the Black Plague occurred, Europeans were suffering from a shortage of food and many were living in the cities. The close living quarters combined with an unhealthy population made it easy for the plague to spread.
During the Black Plague specific groups were targeted as being the cause. Many Jewish people were murdered in an effort to exterminate the disease. In Strasbourg in 1349, 200 Jewish people were killed. Those in Mainz and Cologne were also murdered, as were another several hundred other Jewish communities.
Many believed they could avoid contracting the Black Plague by drinking good wine, avoiding fruit, being happy and by not abusing the poor.
Some believed that bathing would make a person more vulnerable to contracting the Black Plague so they avoided it. Perfume and cologne became popular during the Black Plague.
Nuns and friars often tended to the sick and the mortality rate of these groups was high.
During the Black Plague, music and literature became grim, reflecting the misery of the world around the musicians and writers of that time period.
Three types of the Black Plague were reported. These three types were the bubonic plague (which was fatal in 30-75% of cases), the septicemic plague (which was fatal in almost 100% of cases), and the pneumonic plague (which was fatal in 90-95% of cases).
Since the devastating Black Plague of 1348 to 1351 there have been many more outbreaks, killing millions more. These outbreaks have been due to the same bacterium. In the 1900s a cure was developed, but a drug-resistant strain was discovered in 1995 in Madagascar.

Related Links:
World History Facts
Animals Facts
The Middle Ages Timeline
Spread of People and Disease: c. 600 CE - c. 1450
Byzantine Empire Timeline
Economic Production: c. 600 CE c. 1450
Yuan Dynasty Timeline
Changes in Cities and Labor Systems: c. 600 CE - c. 1450
World History Facts for Kids
Slavery Timeline