Black Death

(5259 words)
  • Ole Jürgen Benedictow (University of Oslo)

Historical Context Essay

  • The Literary Encyclopedia. Volume : WORLD HISTORY AND IDEAS: A CROSS-CULTURAL VOLUME.

This article focuses on an extraordinary murderous and notorious wave of epidemics of bubonic plague which raged in the years 1346-53. Much later, it acquired the name “the Black Death” which does not refer to any medical features of plague disease, but is usually assumed to be a mistranslation of the Latin term “mors atra” where the adjective “atra” may mean both “terrible” and “black”.

Nature and Pattern of Spread of the Black Death

The Black Death was an epidemic of bubonic plague caused by a bacterium called Yersinia pestis and is basically a disease of rodents. Areas or regions where plague circulates continually in large wild rodent populations are called plague foci (…

Please log in to consult the article in its entirety. If you are a member (student of staff) of a subscribing institution (see List), you should be able to access the LE on campus directly (without the need to log in), and off-campus either via the institutional log in we offer, or via your institution's remote access facilities, or by creating a personal user account with your institutional email address. If you are not a member of a subscribing institution, you will need to purchase a personal subscription. For more information on how to subscribe as an individual user, please see under Individual Subcriptions.

Benedictow, Ole Jürgen. "Black Death". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 05 October 2005
[, accessed 01 October 2016.]