The Black Death of 1348 and 1349 by Francis Aidan Gasquet

The Black Death - the history of the European plague 1348The Black Death of 1348 and 1349 is the classic work about the worst plague wave that ravaged Europe in Middle ages first published in 1893. The thoroughly research traces the origin of the plague, to China, “the great breeding ground of epidemics” and describes in details how the disease entered Europe, from the first account to the complete dissolution of entire nations and cancellation of wars. For decades cities were empty and agricultural land lay unused.

The sickness first reached Italy in the early days of 1348, most possible from Crimea. The report at Avignon at the time was that three plague-stricken vessels arrived at the port of Genoa and one into Venice in January. At Venice it is said that more than seventy died out of every hundred the following weeks. The book describes how societies tried a number strategies to quarantine people and isolate cities and areas. Most strategies failed because they were implemented too late. (Read The Decameron for an eyewitness account about the plague in Northern Italy)

Interestingly is also the last part about how Europe recovered. Many good things happened in the social reconstruction, for instance a more fair distribution of land was introduced many places. Also the wages for the poorest rose because of the lack of people. You might also be interested in this account about the smallpox epidemic in In the late Eighteenth Century:

Download The Black Death as a free, complete PDF e-book (308 pages/17 Mb):

 The Black Death of 1348 and 1349


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