The Black Death: A Timeline of the Gruesome Pandemic

Nearly 700 years after the black plague swept across Europe, it continues to haunt the world as the worst scenario of an epidemic. Called the great mortality because it caused its devastation, this second great pandemic of bubonic plague became known under the name of black plague at the end of the XVIIth century.

Modern genetic analysis suggests bubonic plague was caused by bacteria Yersinia pestis or Y. pestis. The main among its symptoms is the painfully swollen lymph nodes that form boils filled with pus called buboes. People with fever also experience fever, chills, headache, shortness of breath, hemorrhage, bloody sputum, vomiting and delirium, and if left untreated, a survival rate of 50 %.

During the black plague, three different forms of the plague appeared across Europe. Here is a timeline of his horrific assault on humanity.

Black plague emerges, spreads via the Black Sea


The strain of Y. pestis emerges in Mongolia, according to John Kelly’s account in The great mortality. It is possibly transmitted to humans by a tarabagan, a type of groundhog. The deadliest epidemic is in the Mongolian capital Sarai, which the Mongols transport west to the Black Sea region.

Mongolian king Janiberg and his army are in the nearby town of Tana when a fight breaks out between Italian merchants and a group of Muslims. After the death of one of the Moslems, the Italians flee by sea towards the Genoese outpost of Caffa and Janiberg follows on land. When he arrived in Caffa, Janiberg’s army besieged for a year, but was struck by an epidemic. As the army catapults the bodies infected with their dead onto the city walls, the Genoese under siege also become infected.


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