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What We Can Learn From History

Pastor Dave Webster

A Dark Time in History: the Black Plague

The second major pandemic that devastated Europe happened 800 years after the Justinian plague that devastated the Roman Empire in 540-542 was known as the Black Plague during the 1340’s.   It was the most fatal of all plagues recorded in human history known also as Black Death. It caused from 75,000,000 to 200,000,000 deaths in Europe alone. History scholars estimate may have reduced the world population by 475,000,000 people in the 14th century.  It took 200 years following for the population to recover to its previous levels.  Since the plague of Justinian there were reoccurrences of the plague but was controlled by measures of isolation and that kept the pandemics under control but something happened in the middle 1300’s that caused a recurrence of the  plague to go out of control.   It is determined that the Black Plague death probably started in China and spread eastward along the Silk Route.  This plague was a virus that was transmitted by fleas and rats.  The reason for the rapid spread of the disease was mainly ships moving from port to port with infected rats.  The host rats were carriers of the infected fleas which were transmitted to humans and animals then transmitted from human to human.  This pandemic was very contagious and it caused devastating religious, economic and social chaos across Europe and Asia as often entire villages would be wiped out causing a shortage in farmers producing food for the cities.   The plague would infect a village or city and spread so quickly it would wipe out a large portion of the population in weeks.  

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