The Black Death (1340)

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The Black Death (or ‘the Plague’) was a deadly plague that ravaged early Europe in the late 1340’s and lasted until 1351. Throughout this time, Europe lost more than a third of its population. The Black Death was ruthless, infecting all that lay in its path.

- The Origins of the Black Death

Arriving in Europe in 1348, the Black Death was a shock to the population’s numbers. Thousands died, and many families were torn apart. But how did the plague come to be? Many experts have tried to pinpoint the Black Death’s place of origin, but none have been successful. It is thought, however that it originated somewhere in Asia, and was carried to Europe via trade routes.

The Black Death was caused by a bacterium called Yersinia Pestis, found in the blood of rats. The fleas that fed off of the rats also commonly attached themselves to humans, transferring the lethal bacterium to the human host. This was partly why the plague spread so quickly.

- Types of the Black Death

There were three different types of the Black Death, with the most common form being the Bubonic plague. This was when the victim had large swellings or buboes, which could be any size. If a person had these symptoms, it indicated that they had less than a week to live. Another form of the Plague was the Pneumonic plague. This form of the plague targeted the respiratory system, and was spread by as little as breathing in the exhaled air of the infected person. This was a faster and more violent form of the Plague, and those infected generally had only one or two days to live. The third form of the Plague was the Septicemic plague, which targeted the circulatory system.

- The Black Death and Society

The spread of the Black Death played a very significant role in the society of early Europe. Peasants and nobles alike fled their homes and their families, leaving behind their jobs and their responsibilities to avoid being infected by the Plague. This resulted in labour shortages and the...
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