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The bacteria which caused the plague is called Yersinia pestis and it continued to wipe out humans for another years after the midth century outbreak. An international team of researchers used the teeth of 24 individuals who died from the second plague pandemic in 10 different countries to reconstruct Yersinia pestis genomes.

Ancient DNA traces the Black Death to Russia’s Volga region

These genomes allowed them to create something similar to a genetic family tree which spanned from the 14th to the 17th century. The family tree highlighted a common staring point for the bacteria samples that were taken from England, France, Germany and other regions across Europe.

The ancestral bacteria is thought to come from a town called Laishevo in Russia, based on an ancient evidence sample called LAI It was previously thought that the Black Death originated in Central Asia and was carried to Europe by fleas living on black rats that travelled on all merchant ships. Spyrou admitted : "It is possible that additional interpretations may be revealed with future discoveries of unsampled diversity in western Eurasia.

The researchers cannot be certain that they have found the definitive origin of the Black Death but their work does help to illustrate some of the earliest known origins of the second plague pandemic. Some people coped with the terror and uncertainty of the Black Death epidemic by lashing out at their neighbors; others coped by turning inward and fretting about the condition of their own souls.

Some upper-class men joined processions of flagellants that traveled from town to town and engaged in public displays of penance and punishment: They would beat themselves and one another with heavy leather straps studded with sharp pieces of metal while the townspeople looked on. Then they would move on to the next town and begin the process over again. Though the flagellant movement did provide some comfort to people who felt powerless in the face of inexplicable tragedy, it soon began to worry the Pope, whose authority the flagellants had begun to usurp.

BBC - History - British History in depth: Black Death

In the face of this papal resistance, the movement disintegrated. The Black Death epidemic had run its course by the early s, but the plague reappeared every few generations for centuries. Modern sanitation and public-health practices have greatly mitigated the impact of the disease but have not eliminated it. Start your free trial today.

4 Epidemiology of the Black Death and Successive Waves of Plague

But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! Subscribe for fascinating stories connecting the past to the present. In the new study, researchers from the University of Oslo analyzed climate data going back to the 14th century, looking for information about the weather conditions that coincided with outbreaks of the bubonic plague, or Black Death.


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Specifically, the scientists analyzed After construction workers digging tunnels for the new Crossrail train line last year discovered some 25 skeletons buried under Charterhouse Square in the Clerkenwell area of London, scientists immediately suspected they had stumbled on a plague cemetery. The square, once home to In the realm of infectious diseases, a pandemic is the worst case scenario.

The history of African-Americans begins with slavery, as white European settlers first brought Africans to the continent to serve as slaves. The fate of slaves in the United States would divide the nation during the Civil War.

The Black Death (Documentary)

And after the war, the racist legacy of slavery would Princess Diana—who married into British royalty, only to later be divorced from it—devoted herself to charitable causes and became a global icon before dying in a car accident in Paris in But what is the evidence? Not only do contemporary chroniclers list important knights, ladies, and merchants who died during the Black Death, but administrative records also point to a wide swath of the population felled in — Furthermore, many wealthy and well-fed convents, friaries, and monasteries across Europe lost more than half of their members; some even became extinct.

However, by the third or fourth wave of plague in the last decades of the 14th century, burial records and tax registers reveal that the disease had evolved into one of the poor.

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In —49, some of the worst-hit regions were in mountainous and in relatively isolated zones, such as in Snowdonia in Wales or the mountain village of Mangona in the Alpi f iorentine, north of Florence, whose communications with cities were less frequent than places further down the slopes and closer to cities. The experiences of these isolated villages may have been similar to small mining villages in Pennsylvania or in South Africa, or Inuit settlements in Newfoundland under attack by another highly contagious pandemic, the Great Influenza of —19, in which they experienced mortalities from 10 to 40 per cent — many times higher than in New York City or London.


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For reasons that are difficult to explain, cities such as Milan and Douai in Flanders, both major hubs of commerce and industry, appear to have escaped the Black Death in almost totally unscathed. Meanwhile, Douai chronicles, monastic necrologies, and archival records recording, for example, the deaths of magistrates, and last wills and testaments show no certain signs of the plague entering that city until the plague of In German-speaking lands, France along the Rhine, and parts of Spain, municipal governments, castellans, bishops, and the Holy Roman Emperor accused Jews of spreading the Black Death by poisoning foodstuffs and water sources, and massacred entire communities of men, women, and babies for these supposed crimes.

Origin and incidence

The accusations and massacres, however, were not universal between and Massacres did not arise in the British Isles where , at least in England , Jews had been expelled in by Edward I , and no clear evidence pinpoints any such violence in Italy except for the Catalans in Sicily. Nor are any massacres recorded in the Middle East. The period deemed necessary to isolate suspected carriers in Milan during its plague of —75, for instance, had dropped to eight daysfor certain categories of suspicion.