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The Black Plague of the Middle Ages is thought to have originated in India about 1332, but this is not certain.There were reports of bubonic Plague outbreaks in China prior to that date. In the 1330’s, unusually dry, windy weather caused Chinese nomads to migrate in search of food and water, along with their pack animals and relocating, hungry rodents. The Plague is caused by bacteria normally resident in field mice, ground squirrels and marmots (rodents similar to woodchucks). Flea bites carry the germ from rodent to rodent, and it is normally not fatal to its hosts. The plague began to spread through cities after they attracted large numbers of scavengers, especially the black rat.
The concept of contagion itself did not even exist at this time. Certain professions suffered higher mortality, especially those whose duties brought them into contact with the sick – doctors and clergy.
In Montpellier, only seven of 140 Dominican friars survived.
The most commonly noted symptom was the most dramatic – large boils that started in the groin or armpits and spread over the body. This is the bubonic form of the disease.
Another common form is pneumonic, similar to pneumonia.
From there the disease went as fast as ships could travel to other Mediterranean ports and then to cities on Europe’s Atlantic coast and along Europe’s main rivers.
People fled the port cities and died of plague in roadside ditches. The plague has and has three well-known forms, bubonic, pneumonic, and septicemic. The term “Black Death” was first used two centuries after the second plague pandemic began.Until then, Europeans referred to it as “The Great Dying”.This failed to contain the disease since the rats jumped ship.Some people did notice that when the plague arrived, dying rats left their hiding places to die.In 1347, when the weather turned cold, bubonic plague had spread through most of Southern Europe.The deadlier, pneumonic form traveled father and reached England in 1348.China’s population dropped by half, to 65 million people.The Mongolian empire ceased to exist because of loss of life. The Black Plague itself recurred in England in 1361, 1443, 1528, and 1563, and in Italy in 1575. Indeed, in 1528, when the plague raged through London, Queen Elizabeth moved to Winsor and was isolated from all Londoners.Crown contender Catherine Grey and her baby were sent to her uncle’s house in Essex.The Spanish ambassador to Queen Elizabeth’s Court died from the plague. The last outbreak in England was the Great Plague of London in 1665.