The Black Death of Medieval Europe and Their Cures


Kelly Macquire
published on 31 July 2022

The Black Death was a truly devastating plague that ravaged Medieval Europe between 1347 and 1352, killing somewhere between twenty-five and thirty million people. The bubonic plague causes swelling of lymph nodes in the groin and the armpits which then take on a sickening black colour, which is where the name Black Death came from. Along with the black sores known as buboes (which is where the name Bubonic comes from), the infected would also suffer from fever and joint pain. In fourteenth-century Europe, two-thirds of those who became infected died from the disease, often within seventy-two hours. The disease reduced Europe’s population by around a third and caused major changes in the medieval social structure.

The disease was brought to Europe by rodents that carried fleas with the bacillus bacterium Yersinia Pestis. The black death entered Europe most probably via Sicily where four rat-infested Genoese ships had docked, arriving from Caffa in the Black Sea. The doctors of Medieval Europe had absolutely no idea how the plague started, what caused it or how it spread which meant they were pretty much at a loss on how to treat it or prevent others from catching it. Since they didn’t know about the rats and the bacteria, the Medieval Europeans thought it may have been caused by the wrath of god, or the work of the devil, maybe from the alignment of the planets or unbalanced humours of the body.



0:00​ Introduction
0:57 What was the Black Death?
2:04 What Caused the Black Death?
3:29 Medieval Cures for the Black Death
7:22 Consequences of the Black Death
10:13 Outro

Black Death
Medieval Cures for the Black Death
Effects of the Black Death on Europe
Religious Responses to the Black Death
Boccaccio on the Back Death: Text & Commentary–commentary/
Reactions to Plague in the Ancient & Medieval World–medieval-world/

What was Feudalism in Medieval Europe?
Courtly Love in the High Middle Ages
A Short History of the Medieval Illuminated Manuscripts
The Crusades: A Brief History of the Medieval Religious Wars

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The music used in this recording is the intellectual copyright of Michael Levy, a prolific composer for the recreated lyres of antiquity, and used with the creator's permission. Michael Levy's music is available to stream at all the major digital music platforms. Find out more on:

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About the Author

Kelly Macquire
Kelly is a graduate from Monash University who has completed her BA (Honours) in Ancient History and Archaeology, focussing on iconography and status in Pylos burials. She has a passion for mythology and the Aegean Bronze Age.

Cite This Work

APA Style

Macquire, K. (2022, July 31). The Black Death of Medieval Europe and Their Cures. World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from

Chicago Style

Macquire, Kelly. "The Black Death of Medieval Europe and Their Cures." World History Encyclopedia. Last modified July 31, 2022.

MLA Style

Macquire, Kelly. "The Black Death of Medieval Europe and Their Cures." World History Encyclopedia. World History Encyclopedia, 31 Jul 2022. Web. 15 Jun 2024.