Even in the ancient world many diseases are caused the same panic and destruction as the bubonic plague. This terrible bacterial infection usually spread by rats and other rodents. But when she got to the human body, it quickly spread throughout the body and often proved fatal. Death could come in a matter of days. Let’s look at six of the most infamous outbreaks of the disease.
The Plague Of Justinian
Justinian the First is often called the most influential Byzantine Emperor, but his reign coincided with one of the first well-documented outbreaks of plague. It is assumed that the pandemic originated in Africa and then spread to Europe via infected rats on merchant ships.
The plague reached the Byzantine capital of Constantinople in 541 ad and soon took a 10 thousand lives a day. This led to the fact that unburied bodies stacked inside buildings and even under the open sky.
The stories of the ancient historian Procopius, the victims showed many of the classic symptoms of bubonic plague, including sudden onset of fever and swollen lymph nodes. Justinian also became ill, but he was able to recover, can not be said about the third part of the inhabitants of Constantinople, which are not so lucky.
Even after the plague subsided in Byzantium, she went on to appear in Europe, Africa and Asia for several years, causing famine and devastation. It is believed to have killed at least 25 million people, but the actual number may be much higher.
The black death
In 1347 the disease again invaded Europe from the East, most likely, along with Italian sailors, who were returning home from the Crimea. The result of the Black death half of the decade tore the entire continent. The population of entire cities were destroyed, and people spent most of their time trying to bury all the dead in mass graves.
Medieval doctors tried to fight the disease through bloodletting and other rough methods, but most people were convinced that this is God’s punishment for their sins. Some Christians even blamed the Jews and started mass pogroms.
The black death subsided in the West, somewhere in 1353, but not before took 50 million people – more than half the population of Europe. Despite the fact that the pandemic has led to devastation throughout the continent, some historians believe that it caused a shortage of labor became a boon for the lower working classes.
Italian plague of 1629-1631
Even after the Black death receded, the bubonic plague continued from time to time to raise its ugly head in Europe for several centuries. One of the most devastating outbreaks began in 1629, when the troops who took part in the Thirty years war, brought the infection to the Italian city of Mantua.
Over the next two years the plague had spread through the countryside, but also struck major cities such as Verona, Milan, Venice and Florence. In Milan and Venice city authorities sent patients to quarantine and completely burned their clothes and belongings to prevent the spread of the disease.
The Venetians even expelled some of the victims of the plague to the Islands nearby lagoon. These harsh measures may have helped to contain the disease, but until that time, killed 280 thousand people, including more than half of the inhabitants of Verona. The Republic of Venice lost a third of its population of 140 thousand people.
Some scholars argue that the outbreak has undermined the strength of the city-state that led to the decline in its position as a major player on the world stage.
The great plague of London
Plague besieged London several times during the 16th and 17th centuries, but the most famous case occurred in 1665-1666. She first appeared in the London suburb of St. Giles Cathedral, and then spread on the dirty neighborhoods of the capital.
The peak occurred in September 1665, when every week died 8 thousand people. Affluent residents, including king Charles the Second, fled to the village, and the main victims of the plague were the poor people.
With the spread of disease London authorities tried to keep the infected in their homes, who noted the red cross. Before the outbreak subsided in 1666, died, according to various estimates, from 75 to 100 thousand people. Later in the same year, London was faced with another tragedy when the Great fire destroyed most of the Central part of the city.
The Marseilles plague
Latest in medieval Europe, a large outbreak of plague began in 1720, with the French port city of Marseille. The disease arrived on a merchant ship that picked up the infected passengers during a trip to the middle East.
The ship was quarantined, but his owner, who also happened to be the Deputy mayor of Marseille, persuaded officials to allow him to unload the goods. Rats that lived in it, soon spread throughout the city, which caused the epidemic.
Thousands of people died, and piles of bodies in the street were so large that to get rid of them, the authorities forced the prisoners. In the neighboring Provence was even built “the wall of the plague” to curb the infection, but it spread to the South of France. Finally the disease disappeared in 1722, but by that time, died about 100 thousand people.
The third pandemic
The first two pandemics is considered to be the plague of Justinian and the Black death. The most recent one, the so-called Third pandemic broke out in 1855 in the Chinese province of Yunnan. Over the next few decades the disease has passed around the globe, and the beginning of the 20th century infected the rats on ships carried it across the six continents.
Around the world the outbreak has killed 15 million people, before it was able to get rid of in 1950. Most of the victims were in China and India, but have also been scattered cases from South Africa to America. Despite heavy losses, the Third pandemic has led to several breakthroughs in understanding by doctors of the disease.
In 1894, a doctor from Hong Kong, Alexander Yersin identified the Bacillus are the cause of the disease. Several years later another doctor finally confirmed that the bites of fleas which were transported by rats was the main cause of infection among people.