Black Death

Jakobe Cannady

The Black Death  was one of the most devastating Pandemics in human history, resulting in the deaths of an estimated75 to 200 million people and peaking in Europe in the years 1348–50 . Although there were several competing theories as to the etiology of the Black Death, analysis of DNA from victims in northern and southern Europe published in 2010 and 2011 indicates that the pathogen responsible was the Yersinia Pestis bacterium, probably causing several forms of plague.

The Black Death is thought to have originated in the arid plains of central Asia, where it then travelled along the Silk Road, reaching the Crimea by 1346. From there, it was most likely carried by oriental rat fleas  living on the black rats  that were regular passengers on Merchant Ships . Spreading throughout the mediteranean and Europe, the Black Death is estimated to have killed 30–60% of Europe's total population. All in all, the plague reduced the word population from an estimated 450 million down to 350–375 million in the 14th century.

The aftermath of the plague created a series of religious, social, and economic upheavals, which had profound effects on the course of european history . It took 150 years for Europe's population to recover. The plague recurred occasionally in Europe until the 19th century.The Black Death arrived in Europe by sea in October 1347 when 12 Genoese trading ships docked at the Sicilian port of Messina after a long journey through the Black Sea. The people who gathered on the docks to greet the ships were met with a horrifying surprise: Most of the sailors aboard the ships were dead, and those who were still alive were gravely ill. They were overcome with fever, unable to keep food down and delirious from pain. Strangest of all, they were covered in mysterious black boils that oozed blood and pus and gave their illness its name: the “Black Death.” The Sicilian authorities hastily ordered the fleet of “death ships” out of the harbor, but it was too late: Over the next five years, the mysterious Black Death would kill more than 20 million people in Europe–almost one-third of the continent’s population.

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