Year of final plague epidemic in select Europe and Mediterranean countries 1650-1844

The Black Death, possibly the deadliest and most well-known pandemic in human history, arrived in Europe from the Eurasian Steppes in 1347 and killed as many as sixty percent of the population within the next five years. While this outbreak eventually subsided, it was just the beginning of the Second Plague Pandemic; the bubonic plague was never really endemic to Europe, but was continuously re-introduced to Europe and the Mediterranean region via trade from Asia.

Plague in the interim

Following the Black Death, outbreaks of plague were sporadic, and varied in severity; however the lack of understanding and treatment meant that these outbreaks had incredibly high fatality rates and often decimated large portions of infected populations. For example, London lost up to one quarter of its population to plague epidemics in the 1560s, and again in the 1660s, while more than a century later Moscow and the surrounding region reportedly lost several hundred thousand people to plague within two years. Smaller and more isolated communities, such as in Cyprus, Iceland and Malta were hit infrequently but severely; Iceland reportedly lost two thirds of its total population in a single pandemic in the early 1400s.

Decline in Europe

Over four centuries after its arrival in Europe, epidemics began to wean on larger scales. Ireland recorded its final epidemic in 1650, and the trend then continued across the states of mainland Europe in the next few decades. After plague disappeared from the German states in the 1680s, there were no more plague epidemics recorded in North or Western Europe. Despite this, it would be almost 160 years before plague disappeared from the Balkans and Turkey. As of 1841, the only part of Europe where plague was still endemic was along the Volga river in Russia; it was brought there by fisherman to the Caspian Sea from Persia and the Eurasian Steppe region.

Years in which countries or regions of Europe and the Mediterranean experienced their final bubonic plague epidemic from 1650 to 1844

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Sources

Release date

May 2020

Region

Europe, MENA

Survey time period

1650 to 1844

Supplementary notes

The data was compiled and corrected using a variety of sources, most notably A Treatise on Plague, by W.J. Simpson (1905), and Encyclopædia Britannica.

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Statistics on "Plague"

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