The 1300s in Europe were dark—some might even say black. It was the time of the Black Death.
In the late 1340's a deadly disease known as the Black Death spread across central Asia, Europe, and North Africa.
The name Black Death came about because the disease created blood spots that turned black under the skin. Some people died within hours of contracting the disease. The disease was the bubonic plague, and it was spread by fleas who fed on infected black rats. Many victims tried to escape the disease, but only spread it further. Most people thought dogs and cats were the ones spreading the disease, so the people killed them, but this only made things worse.
As the Black Death kept spreading people saw this as a punishment from their gods. Some people prayed while battering themselves in public, hoping it would save them.
During the plague people tried to control the disease by marking a cross on the houses that were contaminated to alert visitors. Prisoners and volunteers called out for people to bring out the dead bodies. They put the bodies in a large pit outside cities and villages.
The bubonic plague was a gruesome disease that took many lives during the Middle Ages. Only a few countries such as Germany and Belgium were spared by the disease.
[Source: The Kingfisher Children's Encyclopedia]