Causes and consequences of Black Death how it was controlled

Black Death

Pandemic that hit Europe, Asia and North Africa during the 14th century. Causes and consequences of Black Death

The Black Death was one of the greatest pandemics to hit humanity , specifically Europe , Asia and North Africa . This occurred during the 14th century , reaching its maximum peak between 1345 and 1350.

This pandemic was caused by a bacteria that was transmitted through rat fleas, and and led the life of  1/3 of the population of Europe. It was brought from Asia , and entered Europe through the busiest commercial ports, such as Venice and Genoa.

This plague spread rapidly from the Mediterranean to the entire center and north of the continent, its effects reaching as far away as Russia, Scandinavia and Scotland .

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Characteristics of the Black Death

Among the main characteristics of the Black Death we can highlight that:

  • It is called black plague because of the appearance of the hemorrhagic blisters or bullae that it produced on the skin , which darkened giving a necrotic appearance.
  • The disease can present in 3 ways: bubonic plague, pneumonic plague, or septicemia.
  • The bacterium Yersinia pestis , which causes the disease, was discovered and typified many years later, in 1894.
  • The proliferation was due to a combination of factors where the lack of sanitary organization and the scarce hygienic measures in the population was fundamental.
  • The devastation was total, even being responsible for the death of kings such as Alfonso XI of Castile, Juana II of Navarra, Margaret of Luxembourg, queen consort of Hungary, and Felipa de Lancaster, queen consort of Portugal.

Causes and consequences of the Black Death


From a geographical point of view, the plague began in Asia between 1331 and 1334 and reached India in 1342, where there was a great trade with Europe through ships to the Mediterranean Sea.

When it arrived in Europe in 1347, there were already reports of millions of deaths in China, Mongolia and Asia Minor.

One of the historical milestones that influenced the spread of this pandemic, apart from the intense trade between Asia and Europe, was the invasion of the Crimea by the Mongols, who threw corpses inside the walled cities, contributing to the spread of the plague.

The cause of the black plague or bubonic plague is a bacterium called Yersinia pestis , which is usually found in the fleas and lice of some rodents , which is why rats and their fleas were claimed as the transmitting agents of the bacteria. Causes and consequences of Black Death

However, the most recent research has managed to elucidate that, in addition to rats, other factors had been able to influence the pandemic, such as the change in climate with hotter and drier summers , which favored the proliferation of this type of bacteria. In addition, this change caused long droughts that in turn brought economic crises and famine, weakening a large part of the population.

On the other hand, more than the presence of the rats themselves, the poor hygienic conditions were a decisive factor for the pandemic.

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The consequences that the Black Death brought were the following:

  • Loss of approximately 30% of Europe’s population (20 million inhabitants).
  • 60 million deaths between Asia and Africa .
  • Depopulated and abandoned areas with intense demographic movements.
  • Economic effects with a complete recession, minimal trade and agriculture, and a drastic population decline in cultivated areas.
  • High levels of malnutrition and poverty caused by the recession of the economy.
  • It was a determining factor for the end of the Middle Ages , since the low labor force and the crisis gave way to creativity and innovation, which promoted events such as the discovery of America .

How was the black plague controlled?

The bubonic plague was considered extinct by the end of the 14th century , although its effects and outbreaks lasted for many more years.

The pandemic began to decrease its intensity and mortality when measures such as improved nutrition and hygienic conditions were initiated in the affected populations, which saw the disease decrease rapidly with simple sanitary measures. These measurements were quickly copied by the different populations.

It completely disappeared from Europe in the 19th century ; however, isolated cases and small outbreaks still occur in some parts of the world. Causes and consequences of Black Death

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