20 Mar: What Caused The Black Death?

The bubonic plague was blamed on witches, Jews, God’s wrath, and, on 20th March 1345, in a new theory propagated by the King of France, the rare planetary alignment between Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars in Aquarius.

Of course, the real cause of the Black Death lay in the microscopic world of bacteria, carried by fleas on rats. But mediaeval society, ill-equipped to comprehend the science behind the pandemic, relied on conjecture and superstition to explain the waves of death that swept through Europe.

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly explain how the plague reshaped populations through persecution and migration; consider the Pope’s intervention to prevent a pogrom; and unearth a surprising origin theory for the plague – in Mongolia…

Further Reading:

• ‘Black Death is created, allegedly’ (HISTORY, 2020): https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/black-death-is-created-allegedly

• ‘9 Places Connected to the Black Death’ (HistoryExtra, 2011): https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/black-death-is-created-allegedly

• ‘Plague 101’ (National Geographic, 2018):