It was originally thought that the disease was spread by black rats, but due to the rate of spread and the lack of evidence of large numbers of rat corpses (Bubonic plague kills rats), it is now thought that the bacillus that caused the disease was airborne; spread by the victims themselves.
It is believed that an earthquake, a falling asteroid or other catastrophic event in central Asia released the plague bacillus. The area was under the control of the Mongol Khanate.
An outbreak of plague killed large numbers of Mongol troops that were besieging the port of Kaffa. The leader of the troops, Kipchak Khan catapulted dead bodies over the city walls.
The people of Kaffa boarded ships to escape the plague taking the disease with them.
Plague reached Constantinople, Turkey.
The plague reached the port of Messina, Sicily. It had been carried from the East by trading ships. Boccaccio described the symptoms “The first signs of the plague were lumps in the groin or armpits. After this, livid black spots appeared on the arms and thighs and other parts of the body. Almost all died within three days”. The plague became known as The Black Death.
The plague reached Venice and Genoa.
The plague reached the French port of Marseilles.
The plague reached the Spanish port of Coruna, probably carried on a ship from Bordeaux.
Around forty Jews were massacred in Toulon, France. People believed that the Jews had caused the plague by poisoning the wells.
1348 (late April)
The plague reached Normandy in northern France.
The plague reached Weymouth in the south of England and Bristol in the West.
The Black Death reached London.
1348 (2nd September)
The daughter of Edward III
of England died of the plague.
The plague reached Oslo, Norway.
A religious group called the Flagellants attempted to rid Europe of the Black Death by touring the continent whipping themselves as atonement for people’s sins. They believed that the disease was a punishment from God for people’s sinfulness.
In London, 200 people were dying every day.
The plague reached Wales and the north of England.
The plague spread throughout Norway.
The plague reached southern Germany.
The plague reached Denmark and Sweden.
The plague reached Prussia (modern day Poland) probably brought on a ship from Norway.
The plague reached Scotland.
The plague reached northern Germany.
1351 (late Autumn)
The Black Death reached the Russian town of Pskov.
The plague reached Novgorod, Russia.
The plague reached Moscow.
The plague had largely died out. It would return many times over the next few centuries until health and living standards improved.