Black Death

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The Black Death was one of the deadliest pandemics in human history, peaking in Europe between 1348 and 1350. It is widely thought to have been an outbreak of bubonic plague caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, an argument supported by recent forensic research, although this view has been challenged by a number of scholars. Thought to have started in China, it travelled along the Silk Road and had reached the Crimea by 1346. From there, probably carried by Oriental rat fleas residing on the black rats that were regular passengers on merchant ships, it spread throughout the Mediterranean and Europe.

The Black Death is estimated to have killed 30% – 60% of Europe's population, reducing the world's population from an estimated 450 million to between 350 and 375 million in 1400. This has been seen as having 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 returned at various times, killing more people, until it left Europe in the 19th century.



The Plague of Justinian in the 6th and 7th centuries is the first known attack on record, and marks the first firmly recorded pattern of bubonic plague.[1] From historical descriptions, as much as 40% of the population of Constantinople died from the plague. Modern estimates suggest half of Europe's population was wiped out before the plague disappeared in the 700s.[2] After 750, major epidemic diseases did not appear again in Europe until the Black Death of the 14th century.[3]

The Black Death originated in China and spread by way of the Silk Road.[1] It may have reduced the world's population from an estimated 450 million to between 350 and 375 million in 1400.[4]

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