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The Black Death Plague

History >> Middle Ages

The Black Death is the name for a terrible disease that spread throughout Europe from 1347 to 1350. There was no cure for the disease and it was highly contagious.

How did it start?

The plague likely started in Asia and traveled westward along the Silk Road. The disease was carried by fleas that lived on rats. Historians think that black rats living on European merchant ships caught the disease, eventually bringing it to Europe.

The Triumph of Death by Pieter Brueghel the Elder

How bad was it?

It's hard to imagine how scary life was in the Middle Ages during the Black Death. By the time the disease ran its course, it had killed at least one third of the people in Europe and probably more. In Paris, France it's estimated that around 800 people died a day. There were so many dead that they couldn't bury them. They had to carry them to massive pits.

Unfortunately, the people in the Middle Ages didn't know that the disease was carried by rats. This made larger cities and towns, which were very dirty during the Middle Ages, especially dangerous as there were lots of rats there. Sometimes entire towns or villages were wiped out by the plague.

What did the people do?

As you might expect, there was panic. Many people were sure it was the end of the world. People locked their doors and tried to hide in their houses. However, this did little good in cities where rats, and therefore fleas, were everywhere. They also burned down houses and even entire villages to try and stop the disease.

The Bubonic Plague

Today we call this disease the bubonic plague. Very few people get the disease today and most of those that do recover fine. When people got the disease in the Middle Ages, they almost always died. People would get really sick including black and blue blotches all over their body.

Rebuilding After the Black Death

Much of the infrastructure of Europe was gone when the Black Death finally subsided. It's estimated that it took around 150 years for Europe to rebuild.

Facts about the Black Death Activities

More subjects on the Middle Ages:

Feudal System
Medieval Monasteries
Glossary and Terms

Knights and Castles
Becoming a Knight
History of Knights
Knight's Armor and Weapons
Knight's coat of arms
Tournaments, Jousts, and Chivalry

Daily Life in the Middle Ages
Middle Ages Art and Literature
The Catholic Church and Cathedrals
Entertainment and Music
The King's Court

Major Events
The Black Death
The Crusades
Hundred Years War
Magna Carta
Norman Conquest of 1066
Reconquista of Spain
Wars of the Roses

Byzantine Empire
The Franks
Kievan Rus
Vikings for kids

Alfred the Great
Genghis Khan
Joan of Arc
Justinian I
Marco Polo
Saint Francis of Assisi
William the Conqueror
Famous Queens

Works Cited

History >> Middle Ages for Kids

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