Black Death

Essay by ages_1College, UndergraduateA, November 2002

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Black Death was an outbreak of bubonic plague, that struck Europe and the

Mediterranean area from 1347 through 1351. It was the first of European plague

epidemics that continued until the early 18th century. The plague had been preceded by

ancient plagues between the 6th and 8th centuries A.D.; they were followed by other cycle,

but less deadly, plagues that began in the late 19th century and continue in the 20th

century. The term "Black Death" was not used to refer to the plagues of 1347 through

1351 until much later. They usually referred to it as the Pestilence, or the Great Mortality.

Scientists and historians are still not sure about the origins of the plague. Mediev-

al European writers believed that it began in China. People wrote that it began with

earthquakes, fire falling from the sky, and plagues of vermin. These statements are based

on a number of myths about life in areas outside of Europe. Scientists and historians now

think it's probable that infected rodents migrated from the Middle East into southern

Russia. Plague was then spread west along the trade routes. The plague was then passed

from them to the colonies of Italians living in towns along the Black Sea. Merchants

probably carried the disease from there to Egypt in 1347. It then moved to Damascus and

Libya in 1348. The plague moved quickly along the major trace routes. From Pisa it

traveled to Florence and then on to Rome and Bologna. From Venice it moved into

southern Germany and Austria. Then from Genoa it crossed the Tyrhennian Sea to

Barcelona in Spain and Marseille in France. It continued through the towns of southern

France, reaching Paris by early June 1348. From there the plague spread to England by

late June 1348...