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The disease reached London in August 1348 and reached epidemic proportions by the end of September. By 1351, the pandemic had died down, but whole villages and their fields were empty of inhabitants; cottages and houses sat vacant; many crops had rotted in the field for lack of labor to harvest them; stock animals died, unfed and unwatered, for lack of human care.There were simply not enough serfs and peasants left in England to do the work. The medieval economic system broke down because of the rapid drop in population.
All three have been traced to the bacterium by extracting genetic material from bones and dental pulp of victims buried in plague cemeteries and then comparing it to the genotype of modern samples of the bacterium.
Those that escaped Kaffa fled by ship to Sicily, Genoa, and Venice in 13, carrying the disease with them.
Plague ships soon reached busy ports in France, Spain, and Norway, off-loading their deadly cargo at each stop.
(Disclosure: I was at Penn State at the time, but I did not serve on De Witte’s Ph D committee.) Because of its severity and the existence of documentary as well as biological evidence, the Black Plague looked like a perfect case to investigate the influence of pandemic disease on human populations.
When the plague hit in the mid-1300s, no one knew what caused this dreadful pestilence.