Black Death

Middle Ages

Where It Came From:

The Black Death arrived in Europe by sea in October 1347 when 12 Genoese trading ship docked at the Sicilian port of Messina after a long journey through the Black Sea.

Fact 2:

The Black Death killed most of the sailors aboard the ship, but those who were alive were gravely ill.

Fact 3:

Some things the Black Death did was give you a fever, you were unable to keep food down and were delirious from pain. They also were covered in black boils that oozed blood and pus, that's where the name "Black Death" came from.

Fact 4:

The Sicilian authorities hastily ordered the fleet of "death ships" out of the harbor, but it was too late. Over the next five years, the Black Death would kill more than 20 million people in Europe, which is almost one-third of the continent's population.

Fact 5:

Many scholars think that the nursery rhyme "Ring around the Rosy" was written about the symptoms of the Black Death.

Fact 6:

Early in the 1340s, the Black Death had struck China, India, Persia, Syria and Egypt.

Fact 7:

Today, scientists understand that the Black Death, now known as the plague, is spread by a bacillus called Yersina Pestis (The French biologist Alexandre Yersin discovered this germ at the end of the 19th century.)

Fact 8:

Not long after the plague struck Messina, the Black Death spread to the port of Marseilles in France and the port of Tunis in North Africa.

Fact 9:

It then reached Rome and Florence, two cities at the center of an elaborate web of trade routes. By the middle of 1348, the Black Death had struck Paris, Bordeaux, Lyon and London.

Fact 10:

Because they did not understand the biology of the disease, many people believed that the Black Death was a kind of divine punishment-retribution for sins against God such as greed, blasphemy, heresy, fornication and worldliness.