Black Death


They died    “””””””””Father abandoned child, wife husband, one brother another…And I Agnolo di Tura…buried my five children with my own hands…

So many died that all believed that it was the end of the world.”
Agnolo di Tura in Italy, written in his chronicle in 1348



The Plague     Yersinia pestis     The Spread     Cultural Effects     Controversies     Modern Plague     References



((1348 The Black Death in Florence,


            The Plague is an infectious disease that is thought to be caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis.  This disease is primarily found in rodents, but it can affect humans as well.  Historically, there have been three human pandemic plague outbreaks attributed to this organism (Eisen et al. 15380).  The first authentic description of the plague was detailed in the writings of Rufus.  Occurring in Northern Africa, he described the disease during the third or fourth century B.C.E.  In his writings, he presented the testimonies of physicians to verify his report (Doty 4).  In 542 C.E., the first great pandemic was seen in Europe and was known as the Plague of Justinian.  Here, the plague spread from Egypt all over the Roman Empire, lasting for fifty to sixty years.  Within a year of the outbreak, the epidemic appeared in Constantinople.  At its peak, the plague was believed to have caused the deaths of 10,000 people per day (Doty 4).






Figure 1(The Plague, Marcantonio Raimondi, ca. 1515-1516,



          The second great pandemic became known as the Black Death or the Black Plague.  This pandemic began in Asia and migrated along the trade routes, by land and sea, to Europe in the mid to late 14th century.  It is estimated that one-third to two-thirds of Europe’s population was killed by the Black Death.  The third pandemic occurred in Asia in the 18th and 19th centuries and was known as the modern plague.  This plague spread to all inhabited continents, claiming the lives of more than 12 million people in India and China alone.  It is estimated that worldwide throughout recorded history that the plague has been responsible for 200 million deaths (Perry and Fetherston 36).