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Post Origins and Effects of Black Death, 1347
Created by John Eipper on 05/04/20 2:29 PM

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Origins and Effects of Black Death, 1347 (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy, 05/04/20 2:29 pm)

Excellent post from Gary Moore on the coronavirus (May 3rd); however, I would add a couple of addenda:

1) The 1347 Black Death originated in the Far East, probably Mongolia, and moved Westward reaching Caffa (Kaffa/Kefe/Feodosia in Crimea), a Genoese colony bought in 1266. The fortifications still exist.

The town was the main center of the Ligurian-dominated area called Gazaria. One of the first books about the rules of shipping is the "Liber Gazarie" promulgated between 1316 and 1344 to regulate not only shipping at sea but also the organization of the shore operations and commerce. The relations with the Golden Horde were at times stormy; consider the war of 1308 and then the siege of 1347, when the Mongol Khan engaged in biological warfare by catapulting corpses over the city walls to infect the inhabitants. Those who escaped westward spread the disease to Sicily and Genoa. But the Black Death also came by ship from the Venetian-dominated area southwest of Caffa to Ragusa (Dubrovnik), and other ports of Venetian Dalmatia, finally arriving in Venice and from there to the interior.

The Italian dominions of Crimea lasted until Gedik Ahmet Pasha, leader of the Ottoman fleet, conquered Caffa and surrounding areas in 1475.

2) Some historians believe that the mild impact of the Black Death in Milan, killing perhaps only 15% of the total population of 100,000, was due to the rigid lockdown and quarantine (as at present) imposed by the ruler Luchino Visconti. Also, Poland had a mild pandemic, thanks to the rigid lockdown imposed by Casimir III the Great while the Basque Countries probably were saved by their mountains.

JE comments:  This gives us some chilling perspective.  Nothing (we pray) will ever approach the length and devastation of the Black Death:  the plague lasted for 15 years, claiming at least 75 million dead (some estimates reach 200,000,000).  Europe's population was reduced by 30%-60%.


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