Monday, March 30, 2020

Your Guide to the Black Death

The Great Mortality. From History Extra:
In the Middle Ages, the Black Death, or ‘pestilencia’, as contemporaries called various epidemic diseases, was the worst catastrophe in recorded history. Some dubbed it ‘magna mortalitas’ (great mortality), emphasising the death rate. It destroyed a higher proportion of the population than any other single known event. One observer noted ‘the living were scarcely sufficient to bury the dead.’ No one could be sure what caused it.

Breaking out in ‘the east’, as medieval people put it, the Black Death came north and west after striking the eastern Mediterranean and Italy, Spain and France. It then came to Britain, where it struck Dorset and Hampshire along the south coast of England simultaneously. The plague then spread north and east, then on to Scandinavia and Russia. (Read more.)

From National Geographic:

The plague was once the most feared disease in the world, capable of wiping out hundreds of millions of people in seemingly unstoppable global pandemics and afflicting its victims with painfully swollen lymph nodes, blackened skin, and other gruesome symptoms
In 17th-century Europe, the physicians who tended to plague victims wore a costume that has since taken on sinister overtones: they covered themselves head to toe and wore a mask with a long bird-like beak. The reason behind the beaked plague masks was a misconception about the very nature of the dangerous disease.

During that period's outbreaks of the bubonic plague—a pandemic that recurred in Europe for centuries—towns gripped by the disease hired plague doctors who practiced what passed for medicine on rich and poor residents alike. These physicians prescribed what were believed to be protective concoctions and plague antidotes, witnessed wills, and performed autopsies—and some did so while wearing beaked masks. (Read more.)

From Ancient Origins:
The reason the cause of death is so important is that many archaeological researchers have suspected Africa was struck by a historic bubonic plague, and the Iroungou bones might hold an answer. According to a March 2019 article published on Science , in the 14th century Black Death swept across Europe, Asia, and “North Africa,” killing up to 50% of the populations of major cities, but archaeologists and historians have assumed that the plague, Yersinia pestis, carried by fleas infesting rodents, didn't make it across the Sahara Desert . (Read more.)

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