Black Death Plague Facts

A plague epidemic swept through Europe from 1348 to 1351, killing approximately 25-60% of Europeans. The exact number of deaths is difficult to measure, and the number of deaths varies dramatically from source to source. It is currently estimated that between 75 and 200 million people have died from the plague. The term "Black Death" is related to the fact that when signs of plague people develop strange black growths on their necks, armpits or groin. The epidemic ended in 1351, but the plague continued to return to Europe with epidemics every few years throughout the late fifteenth century. The Black Death was the second plague pandemic of the Middle Ages. The plague of Justinian in the sixth century was deadly and widespread, but did not reap such plentiful sacrifices. The Black Death followed a period of population growth in Europe that was bolstered by two years of cold weather and heavy rains. This led to crop failure and an outbreak of disease.

In 1346, rumors of a plague that began in China and spread throughout Asia, Persia, Syria, Egypt, and India reached Europe. During the siege of the Genoese city of Kaffa by the Tatars in 1347, residents were reportedly infected with the plague when the Tatars threw the bodies of plague victims into the city. In November 1347, a fleet of Genoese merchant ships landed in Messina, Sicily after trading along the coast from the Black Sea to Italy.

From Sicily the plague swept across Europe, moving north to Iceland and Greenland. Plague and climate ended the European colonies on the Greenland coast. More than half of the population died in Siena. Even the work on the large city cathedral, which was planned to become the largest in the world, even stopped, but it never resumed. The unfinished cathedral still stands as a reminder of the coming death