Why did the Plague spare Poland?

The Black Death skipped certain parts of Europe – and that could be a lesson for today’s coronavirus epidemic

Frank Jacobs
06 March, 2020

Why were Milan, Poland and a few other places spared the worst of the Black Death?


Image: Andy85719 – CC BY-SA 3.0

Calm down, we’re not comparing COVID-19 to the Plague.
Well, not literally. But this map raises an interesting question: Why were some parts of Europe spared of the Black Death?
And can that tell us something about where the coronavirus will or won’t spread?

The Black Death was a ruthless killer – and, if you were lucky, a swift one. Its more fortunate victims “ate lunch with their friends, and dinner with their ancestors in paradise,” wrote Giovanni Boccaccio, who lived through the initial wave of the Plague as it struck Italy in the 1340s.

What does that have to do with the coronavirus? Not a whole lot, fortunately. Except that the brief of this little corner of the internet is to look for strange maps, and one map led to another.

The Plague was brought from China to Europe in the 1330s by rodents hitching rides with traders. The infection with the Yersinia pestis bacterium was typically transmitted to humans by fleabites. The Plague’s three manifestations were bubonic (causing painful swellings), septicemic (infecting the bloodstream) and pneumonic (choking off breathing, and transmittable via coughing). Left untreated – as was necessarily the case in the Middle Ages – bubonic plague had a mortality rate of about 50%, for the other two, it’s virtually 100%.

Bocaccio’s Italy was hit hard by the epidemic. Cities like Venice and Pisa lost three-quarters of their population.

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Categories: Europe, Europe and Australia

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2 replies

  1. What I know of the plague is rooted in Judae Christian history!
    The sobs burnt thousands of Jews alive!
    “The first massacres directly related to the plague took place in April 1348 in Toulon, Provence where the Jewish quarter was sacked, and forty Jews were murdered in their homes; the next occurred in Barcelona.[6] In 1349, massacres and persecution spread across Europe, including the Erfurt massacre, the Basel massacre, massacres in Aragon, and Flanders.[7][8] 2,000 Jews were burnt alive on 14 February 1349 in the “Valentine’s Day” Strasbourg massacre, where the plague had not yet affected the city. While the ashes smouldered, Christian residents of Strasbourg sifted through and collected the valuable possessions of Jews not burnt by the fires.[9][10] Many hundreds of Jewish communities were destroyed in this period. Within the 510 Jewish communities destroyed in this period, some members killed themselves to avoid the persecutions.[11] In the spring of 1349 the Jewish community in Frankfurt am Main was annihilated. This was followed by the destruction of Jewish communities in Mainz and Cologne. The 3,000 strong Jewish population of Mainz initially defended themselves and managed to hold off the Christian attackers. But the Christians managed to overwhelm the Jewish ghetto in the end and killed all of its Jews.[9]”

    Why pick on Jews as if there has to be a reason in Christendom?
    “Jews were also isolated in the ghettos, which meant in some places that Jews were less affected.[13][14] Additionally, there are many Jewish laws that promote cleanliness: a Jew must wash his or her hands before eating bread and after using the bathroom, it was customary for Jews to bathe once a week before the Sabbath, a corpse must be washed before burial, and so on.[5]”

    Jews would have been much better off in Muslim countries!
    Long live Islam!

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