Historical Nonfiction

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The Black Plague?

Was probably not actually the black plague. The story, that the bubonic plague came through Kaffa to Europe and was spread by rats’ fleas, is based on one eyewitness account about Kaffa and a few of the more detailed accounts that have survived  being matched with an endemic virus that still crops up from time to time today. Unfortunately, it’s probably completely wrong: the bubonic plague has different symptoms than the majority of contemporaries described. The swellings at joints is one symptom, but bubonic plague does not cause the strangely colored spots that covered black plague victims.

It also must travel with rats, not fleas. This means that bodies getting tossed across the walls of Kaffa by beseiging Muslims wouldn’t have spread the bubonic virus — the rats needed to be tossed over as well. Also, outbreaks of bubonic plague today are accompanied by massive die-offs of rats. No contemporary accounts of the black death mention this very visible and disgusting clue. So historians are left with a puzzle: what germ actually caused the massive epidemic of 1347? And how was it transmitted to Europe?

  1. nanshe-of-nina reblogged this from historical-nonfiction and added:
    Yeah, no. //www.uni-mainz.de/FB/Biologie/Anthropologie/MolA/Download/Haensch%20et%20al.%202010.pdf...
  2. ryan2600 reblogged this from historical-nonfiction and added:
    Well I’ll be.
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    Another lie my teacher told me?
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    Three plagues, dear. Three. Bubonic, pneumonic, and septicemic. Accounts of all three were found.
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    However, no convincing alternatives have been proposed. Contemporary accounts of symptoms, although important, cannot be...
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  25. fieldnotesbiologyculture reblogged this from historical-nonfiction and added:
    Was probably not actually the black plague, the story of which is based on one eyewitness account about Kaffa.
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