During the 14th century, Many Europeans heard rumours about a disease passing through the trade routes. It hit China, India, Persia, Syria, and Egypt. This disease was called The Black Death which created strange blisters with pus, then symptoms such as, fever, chills, vomiting, diarrhea, and aches; the result was always death. The plague was incredibly contagious and worked fast. Someone perfectly healthy could get sick at night and be dead by morning. On average, it took 23 days before a person died.
The Black Death arrived in Europe by sea when Genoese (Genoa) trading ships came to the Sicilian (Sicily) port after sailing through the Black Sea. When people came to the dock, they saw that everyone on the ship was either dead or dying. They all had a strong fever and were covered in strange black blisters oozing blood and pus which gave the disease its name. The Sicilians ordered the ships out of the harbour but they were too late. Some also say that it travelled along the Silk Road which was a network of trade routes in Europe and Asia.
From there, it was most likely passed on from the black rats who live around humans, unlike brown or grey rats who prefer sewers. It takes around ten to fourteen days for a disease to kill off an entire rat colony and when they die, fleas gather around them. They later move onto humans who get infected by the disease.
Since they did not have the technology or education to understand the plague, people thought that it was a punishment by God for their sins. In order to end the disease, people thought they would have to be forgiven by God. Many people started killing disbelievers or anyone who followed a different religion which led to the Jews massacred. Some men created groups and went from town to town and publicly punished themselves and others. This gave some people comfort but worried the Pope since it disturbed his authority. Because of the Black Death, many people stopped believing in the Church because they believed that if there was a God, he would have helped them.
The epidemic ended around 1350 but reappeared a few generations later for centuries. In the 14th century, it killed about 60% of Europe’s population and has not been eliminated yet.