In June 1348, people in England began reporting mysterious symptoms. They started off as mild and vague: headaches, aches and nausea. This was followed by painful black lumps, or buboes, growing in the armpits and groin, which gave the disease its name: bubonic plague. The last stage was a high fever followed by death.

Soldiers and caravans had brought bubonic plague – Yersinia pestis, a bacterium that originated in Central Asia and is carried on fleas that live on rats – to ports on the Black Sea. The highly commercialised world of the Mediterranean ensured the plague’s swift transfer on merchant ships to Italy, and then across Europe. The Black Death killed between a third and a half (https://www.historytoday.com/archive/black-death-greatest-catastrophe-ever) of the population of Europe and the Near East...

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