The Bubonic Plague was spread from China to Italy in 1347 when a fleet of merchant ships returned home from a trip to the Black Sea. As they docked in Sicily many of the crewmembers had already died. The disease spread rapidly through the city and surrounding countryside.
By the following August the plague had spread north, reaching England. This is where the disease was dubbed The Black Death because a symptom was black spots on the skin.
Fleas were a main carrier of the plague, and since they were dormant in the winter, the spread of the disease seemed to cease during those months, only to begin again in the spring. After five years of this cycle roughly 25 million people died, and that was approximately one third of Europes population.
The consequences of the Black Death were felt long after its disappearance. The enormous number of deaths resulted in a severe labor shortage. The peasant workers began demanding more money for their labor since there was so much more work for them to do. When their demands were refused peasant revolts resulted.
Although it is now known what caused the plague, many in medieval society believed an array of reasons were responsible for the outbreaks. Jews, Muslims, bad Christians poisoning the water, and punishment from God for unchristian ways are all among those reasons, de Venette writes.
RELEVANCY: The AIDS virus can be viewed as a modern day Black Death. Both in mortality rate, and the way it is seen in society. Cases of the disease have been tracked since 1983, and since then 21.8 million people have died from it.
It was discovered early on that Aids could be spread through sexual contact, and dirty hypodermic needles among other causes. This spurred religious zealots like Jerry Falwell, and even the Roman Catholic Church has hinted, that Aids may be punishment from God for homosexuality, premarital sex, and IV drug use, just as many in medieval society believed that the plague was a form of punishment from God for unchristian behavior.
Although it has taken Aids much longer to kill almost as many people as the Bubonic Plague did, there is no cure for the disease in the foreseeable future, so its mortality rate will surely surpass that of the Black Death.