The Mystery of the Black Death

The Black Death pandemic swept across Europe in the mid-14th century killing about half the population. It was caused by a bacterium called Yersinia pestis.

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  • Sven

    I thought the Black Death was Latoya Jackson? 😀

  • http://twitter.com/murphycann Christina Ann Murphy

    interesting program but the rats and the fleas… just ugh gross… but, good none the less

  • FactionEarth

    “A great many people throughout Europe and other Plague stricken regions of the world were reporting that outbreaks of the Plague were caused by foul-smelling ‘mists’. Those mists frequently appeared after unusually bright lights in the sky.” http://www.theforbiddenknowledge.com/chemtrails/index.htm

    Ever seen the movie prometheus? Notice how that ‘black goo’ is somewhat similar to the ‘ebola virus’? We’re being drip fed the truth. See the doc on here called ‘Room 237’ about ‘The Shining’ and all the hidden meanings.

  • bringmeredwine

    Interesting program if you like history, medical science, and a good mystery. I enjoyed it except for the gross parts. All MY guesses were WRONG.

  • carmen

    I am from Newfoundland, and at the northern tip of newfoundland there is evidence of Viking settlements, i was really surprised that there was no mention of it in this documentary. Still a very interesting watch.

  • Hyungnam Gu

    In October 2010, the open-access scientific journal PLoS Pathogens published a paper by a multinational team who undertook a new investigation into the role of Yersinia pestis in the Black Death following the disputed identification by Drancourt and Raoult in 1998. Their surveys tested for DNA and protein signatures specific for Y. pestis in human skeletons from widely distributed mass graves in northern, central and southern Europe that were associated archaeologically with the Black Death and subsequent resurgences. The authors concluded that this new research, together with prior analyses from the south of France and Germany

    …ends the debate about the etiology of the Black Death, and unambiguously demonstrates that Y. pestis was the causative agent of the epidemic plague that devastated Europe during the Middle Ages.

    The study also found that there were two previously unknown but related clades (genetic branches) of the Y. pestis genome associated with medieval mass graves. These clades (which are thought to be extinct) were found to be ancestral to modern isolates of the modern Y. pestis strains Y. p. orientalis and Y. p. medievalis, suggesting the plague may have entered Europe in two waves. Surveys of plague pit remains in France and England indicate the first variant entered Europe through the port of Marseille around November 1347 and spread through France over the next two years, eventually reaching England in the spring of 1349, where it spread through the country in three epidemics. Surveys of plague pit remains from the Dutch town of Bergen op Zoom showed the Y. pestis genotype responsible for the pandemic that spread through the Low Countries from 1350 differed from that found in Britain and France, implying Bergen op Zoom (and possibly other parts of the southern Netherlands) was not directly infected from England or France in 1349 and suggesting a second wave of plague, different from those in Britain and France, may have been carried to the Low Countries from Norway, the Hanseatic cities or another site.

    The results of the Haensch study have since been confirmed and amended. Based on genetic evidence derived from Black Death victims in the East Smithfield burial site in England, Schuenemann et al. concluded in 2011 “that the Black Death in medieval Europe was caused by a variant of Y. pestis that may no longer exist.” A study published in Nature in October 2011 sequenced the genome of Y. pestis from plague victims and indicated that the strain that caused the Black Death is ancestral to most modern strains of the disease.

    DNA taken from 25 skeletons from the 14th century found in London have shown the plague is a strain of Y. pestis that is almost identical to that which hit Madagascar in 2013.