Bubonic Plague

Elizabeth Sapp

Spread of the Plague

It first came from the Yunnan region of southwestern China. The plague infects rodents such as rats, squirrels and fleas. During the 14th century the Mongol military campaigned to spread the disease to human victims in China. It was reported that 90% of the population in the Hebei province in northeastern China. In the 1350's epidemics broke out all over china, and was able to kill of two thirds of the population.

During the 1340's Mongols, merchants, and other travelers spread the disease along trade routes all the way to points west of China. It arrived in large trading cities of Central Asia where animals and rodents bred. By 1346 it had reached the Black Sea ports and spread to the Mediterranean basin. By 1348 because of the spread through the trade routes, the plaque had spread to most of Western Europe.

What is the Bubonic Plaque?

The Bubonic Plague or "Black Death" was a disease that wiped out millions of people. Victims often developed inflamed lymph nodes. Internal hemorrhaging often created discolored the inflammations on the body. These inflammations were known as "buboes" and once developed, they became black and purple. Once coming into a region the plague was able to kill of 60-70% of it's victims.

Population Decline

In some regions hit by the plague, it took a century or even longer to fully recover from the tragic population decline. In 1300 China was already struggling and loosing population due to the conflicts with the Mongols had a population of about 85 million. After about 70 years of the plague the population decreased to about 75 million.

Social and Economic Effects

Peasants, merchants, craftsmen, bankers priests, nuns, and even rulers and bureaucrats all added to the population decrease. The plague caused massive labor shortages and that created large amounts of social unrest in Western Europe. Workers began to demand higher wages, and many moved around looking for better job opportunities. Many political authorities responded by freezing wages and not allowing people to move out of their homes. Unfourtunely, many people started rebellions in both the rural and urban areas. It took a lot of social disruption and loss of lives to end the rebellions and begin rebuilding the economy.


By the 17th century the amount of bubonic plague cases drastically decreased. Epidemics were not nearly as often but still occurred every once in a while. Since the 1940's antibotics have been created to keep the disease under control. Still the plague still lives in many rodent populations around the world.