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The Black Death: Cause of the Disease

Year 8 History

The Black Death

Warning: contains graphic material that may be distressing to some viewers.

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Here are some books that you may find useful during your studies.  Search the Bennies catalogue Oliver for more, or browse the Non-fiction collection NFS.


World Book Timelines

ABC Science

For hundreds of thousand of years, mankind's basic economic unit was the tribe. Each tribe wandered the landscape hunting and gathering. There was very little contact with members of other tribes. This didn't make things easy for micro-organisms that cause disease.

Thought Co.

The Black Death, also known as The Plague, was a pandemic affecting most of Europe and large swaths of Asia from 1346 through 1353 that wiped out between 100 and 200 million people in just a few short years. Caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, which is often carried by fleas found on rodents, the plague was a lethal disease that often carried with it symptoms like vomiting, pus-filled boils and tumors, and blackened, dead skin.

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THE BLACK DEATH-1347 AD When a plague-ridden ship landed in Venice in 1347, it was immediately put into quarantine...but no one could stop the rats from corning ashore. Within three years, a third of Western Europe's population was dead. It was the greatest calamity in history.

No other period in history stirs our imaginations quite like the Dark Ages. It is an era cloaked in mystery, a time when noblemen and priors, master builders and monks were the order of the day and simple, peasant folk struggled to survive. Plagues, famines and witch burnings were commonplace. Those who questioned the authority of the Church faced the ultimate penalty - death. And yet there were some who stood up for reason and righteousness, brave men and women who were beacons of light in a time of darkness.

An investigation into the causes of the notorious Black Death, which devastated 14th-century Europe and killed up to half its population. New evidence suggests the disease was not bubonic plague spread by rats, but could instead have been a deadly virus which mysteriously vanished yet may still exist in the world today.

You Tube

The outbreak of the Black Death in the 14th century decimated populations across Europe, Asia and Africa. This program looks at: the symptoms of the disease, how it was caused and transmitted, and the role poor living conditions and a lack of medical knowledge played in its fast and far reaching spread. Prevailing and sometimes bizarre beliefs about its causes and cures are discussed in this stylised and at times gruesome presentation which is sure to capture viewer attention.

What Caused the Black Death and How Did It Spread? The Black Death was one of the deadliest pandemics in human history, wiping out an estimated 75 to 200 million people across Europe and Asia in the mid-14th century. In this video, we'll delve into the causes and spread of this devastating disease. We'll explore the role of the bacterium Yersinia pestis in causing the plague, and how it was transmitted from person to person through fleas that infested rats. 

The Black Death Causes

The History Channel


The plague is thought to have originated in Asia over 2,000 years ago and was likely spread by trading ships, though recent research has indicated the pathogen responsible for the Black Death may have existed in Europe as early as 3000 B.C.


The Black Death is believed to have been the result of plague, an infectious fever caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis. The disease was likely transmitted from rodents to humans by the bite of infected fleas.

Google Arts and Culture


The Plague, sometimes called Black Death, was the most devastating disease in the history of humankind. Between 75 million and 200 million people died because of it.

World History Encyclopedia

The disease was caused by a bacillus bacteria, Yersinia pestis, and carried by fleas on rodents, although recent studies suggest human parasites like lice may well have been the carriers.