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14th Century.
"The
Black Death"
INTRODUCTION.
This frightful scourge appears to have originated in the East, and to bave
entered Europe vid Tartary and the Crimea. According to old Russian chronicles,
its origin was China, where, as is confirmed to some extent by Chinese
records, pestilence and inundations are at this time (1300-1400) said to have
destroyed the enormous number of thirteen millions. Appearing first in Sicily
and Constantinople in 1346, it invaded Greece, parts of Itaty, and Marseilles in
1347; in 1348 it attacked Spain, Northern Italy and Rome, Eastern Germany,
many parts of France, including Paris, and England, including London, whence it
spread to Scandinavia. Oxford was attacked in 1352. Scotland and Ireland, too,
though affected later, did not escape,
The death-tribute exacted by this terrific wave of pestilence was appalling.
It is estimated that three-fourths of the population of England perished* ; while
Europe is calculated to have lost one-fourth of its inhabitants-twenty-five
millions of people.
15th Century.
In the 15th century the pestilence re-appeared frequently in almost every part
of Europe : carrying off 80,000 in Dantzic and the neighbourhood in 1427 :
40,000 in Paris in 1466 : while Northern Italy was devastated in 1477-85, and
Brussels in 1485. In the last year of the century (1499-1500) a severe plague
in London caused lung Henry VII. to retire to Calais.
J.6th Century,
The 16th century was not more free from the scourge than the 15th ; but it
constitutes an important epoch in Plague : for, about 1550 A. D., the question of
contagion was first raised. Plague had also henceforth to be distinguished
from Typhus fever, which, during this century, made its first appearance in
Europe.
Edinburgh was attacked in 1529 : London and the north of England in 1537
and 1547 : Italy and Germany about the same time ; while in Paris about this
time plague was an every-day occurrence, familiarity with which had bred
contempt. Severe epidemics occurred at Moscow and in the neighbourhood
(1570), in which 200,000 perished; at Lyons (1570), plague mortality-50,000 ;
at Venice (1576), where 70,000 were carried off.
17th Century.
In the first half of the 17th century the pestilence was still prevalent in Europe,
though considerably less so than in the Middle Ages : in the second half a still
greater decrease took place: while in the next 25 years it was disappearing rapidly
from Western Europe.
Two noteworthy epidemics, nevertheless, were recorded during this century.
The first-one of the most terrible and destructive of all recorded European
epidemics-raged at Naples in 1656: where it destroyed 300,000 people in
5 months. Genoa also lost 60,000 in this epidemic.
* " In England a great, part of the country remained untilled, and the deficiency of labourers was such as to
'' cause a sudden rise of wages, which, in spite of attempts to check it by legislation, is believed to have effected
" the final emancipation of the labouring class. On the other hand, a great transfer of property to the Church
" took place-with what results is well known."-Encyc. Brit., Art. "Plague."
Heckcr's estimate.

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