- The diffusion of crops and pathogens, including epidemic diseases like the bubonic plague, often occured along trade routes.
- The bubonic plague - named the Black Death by later historians - was caused by the yersinia pestis bacteria, which lived in rodent populations and was spread by fleas that had bitten infected animals.
- Once the plague transferred to animals that were in close contact with humans and to humans themselves, it began to spread along established trade routes.
- It is difficult to measure the exact human cost of the plague due to limited records from the historical period.
- Most historians think that the plague killed somewhere between 30% and 60% of Europe’s population between 1347 and 1351.
Trade and disease
It first betrayed itself by the emergence of certain tumors in the groin or the armpits, some of which grew as large as a common apple, others as an egg, some more, some less . . .
From the two said parts of the body this deadly [bubo] soon began to propagate and spread itself in all directions indifferently; after which the form of the malady began to change, black spots or livid making their appearance in many cases on the arm or the thigh or elsewhere, now few and large, then minute and numerous.
Origins of the plague outbreak
The plague spreads
Effects of the plague
- Serfdom began to disappear as peasants had better opportunities to sell their labor.
- High labor costs caused landowners to look for more efficient and profitable ways to use their land and resources, such as increasing livestock production and payments of rent in money, rather than labor.
- High labor costs also caused governments to impose price controls on wages, but these efforts were often unsuccessful and sometimes met with rebellion.
- The fear and confusion caused by the plague sometimes led to violence, in part because of a lack of medical knowledge regarding how the plague spread. Jews,,Romani, and other religious and cultural minorities were sometimes blamed for causing or spreading the plague and became targets of attacks. It should be noted that the plague did not cause these social tensions, but rather created a context that made these tensions stronger and more likely to lead to violence.lepers