In October of 1347, a ship docked at Messina in Sicily with all sailors aboard either dead or dying from plague. They came from Caffa, or Kaffa, located in Crimea. It is believed Caffa received the pestilence from Mongol trebuchets during a siege of the city. From here on out, Europe was to have outbreaks year after year, eventually losing up to a third of it’s population by some estimates.
I’ve recently come across the interesting ways in which infectious disease has played a part in the way geographic regions and peoples change in their language customs. In the 14th century, during one of the multiple outbreaks of the Black Death, so many french tutors died that children in Britain began to be educated in their native language, thus helping its spread.
Translation: You’re S.O.L. kids, Girard is out, Cobb is in.
source: A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century by Tuchman
Turns out the fur trade, now industry, sucks for more reasons than I thought. One of the ways the Black Death was spread in the 14th century was by fur trappers and hunters. Marmots were trapped for their fur in Central Asia and taken West along the trade routes. Around this time, many were found already dead, likely from plague, skinned and shipped off to Western Russia and Europe.
On a side note, marmots are super cute critters. I got to see some on a trip to the Olympic Peninsula.
from Plagues & Poxes: The Impact of Human History on Epidemic Disease by Alfred Jay Bollet