October 31, 2023

The Black Death (jan 1, 1346 – jan 1, 1353)


Due to climate change in Asia, rodents began to flee from the dry grasslands to the more populated areas, particularly in China. These rodents were carrying fleas that were infected with a bacteria known as Yersinia pestis. At the same time, the economy in China was just beginning to recover from the Mongol invasions, although still suffered bouts of natural disasters and famine. Living in such close proximity to the rodents and with poor living conditions, it was not long before the infected fleas passed onto humans the notorious disease, plague.

Early reports of the outbreak occurred in the province of Hubei in 1334, and then began to spread to one province after another. The disease was so devastating, it is estimated to have killed 25 million people in China and other parts of Asia in a period of just fifteen years. At the same time, the plague was inadvertently carried by Mongols onto the Silk Road, and traders onto the Indian Ocean trading network. By 1346, it had spread to India, Mesopotamia, and Syria; and a year later, it arrived in European ports such as Crimea and Sicily. From there, the plague spread through Italy, and then north-west hitting France, Iberia, and even England by the June of 1348. From there, it grew eastwards, infecting the Holy Roman Empire, Norway, and even Iceland. From the ports in Crimea, the plague reached the city of Constantinople which then spread to Anatolia, the Levant, Egypt, and down as far as Mecca in the Arabian Peninsula. By the middle of the 14th Century, the plague had killed an estimated 75 to 200 million people across Eurasia, earning it the name, "the Black Death."

The Black Death decimated the populations of many nations causing great ripples in the cultures and economies everywhere. Lack of knowledge on how disease worked meant many people attributed the deaths to religious reasons; one result of this was the idea that Jews had poisoned public water supplies purposely, and thus Christians began to murder thousands of Jews in towns all throughout Europe.

The peak of the Black Death declined in the 1350s, leaving its mark on civili-zation. Outbreaks would still occur in various locations right until the 19th Century, but the world would never again see a pandemic of the same magni-tude.

Added to timeline:

4 months ago
History of Human Civilization
This is a rough history of human migration, advancement, and...


jan 1, 1346
jan 1, 1353
~ 7 years
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