The Black Death: the Bubonic Plague and its Vast Consequences

The Dance Macabre, or Dance of Death inspired by the plague (Nuremberg Chronicles, Wikimedia)

The Black Death, or Great Plague, was one of the most devastating waves of disease and death in human history. Modern historians of the Middle Ages estimate that up to 200 million people succumbed to the plague in Asia and Europe in the mid-14th century. Originating in Central Asia along the Silk Road and peaking in Europe around 1350, the Black Death was carried by a rat flea and may have wiped out as much as 70 to 80% of the population in some parts of the Mediterranean. The psychological, religious, economic and cultural impacts of the plague have affected us to this day, leading to persecution, major social change and important developments in literature and art.

Produced and presented by Michele Ernsting

Broadcast March 30, 1999