Black Death

Although the Black Death lasted in all at least 7 years, from its first clearly recorded appearance in the Caspian area to its final devastation of Moscow, no single city or region suffered for more than a small fraction of that period. The plague moved like a wave through the Middle East and Europe, and the average duration of the epidemic in any given place seems to have been about 5 to 6 months. The reasons for this are complicated. The ecology of plague means that it is a seasonal phenomenon; in its dominant, bubonic form, it flourishes in warm weather, whereas its rarer, primary pneumonic form is most common in winter. Thus the Black Death was above all a disease of spring, summer, and early autumn, typically receding in the last months of the year. For this reason, areas first affected in early spring, like Tunis or the cities of central Italy, in general suffered longer and more severely than those, like northern France and Flanders, affected in August or September. The most unfortunate regions were those such as Lower Egypt, the Veneto, Provence, or Ireland, which experienced successive pneumonic and bubonic epidemics (lasting as long as 9 or 10 months, spanning both winter and summer) or were reinfected in successive years.

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