Three Major Pandemics

Three Major Pandemics

Everyone knows about the Second Plague Pandemic (which includes the Black Death) but there were three major pandemics in total. The First Pandemic spread in the 6th and 7th centuries which killed up to 40% of the population in Constantinople and Europe. It happened during a period of scarce historical record so it's now mostly forgotten but it devastated the Byzantine Empire.

The Second Pandemic began with an epidemic in Mongolia in the 1330s and then it spread to Europe through the Silk Road. It was first recorded in Europe in 1347, resulting in a 6-year period called the Black Death where an estimated 30% to 60% of Europeans died. The end of the Black Death didn't result in the end of the Second Pandemic as the bacteria became endemic in Europe and continued to cause deadly Bubonic plague epidemics for centuries to come. During the 16th to 17th century, there was a major plague outbreak in Paris, on average once every 3 years. The classic plague doctor outfit wasn’t invented until 1619 and used until 1656. The last major British plague epidemic was the Great Plague of London from 1665-1666 which also spread to the surrounding areas. This resulted in Newton being sent home from the University of Cambridge and quarantined. 1666 was Newton’s annual mirabilis when a bored 23-year-old Newton came up with numerous theories and experiments which changed the history of science.

The Third Plague Pandemic lasted from 1855 until 1960 in India and China but didn't really spread to Europe. It caused the death of 12 million people, 10 million in India alone.

Some researchers also believe that the Bubonic Plague might also have been responsible for the Neolithic decline of the human population in Europe 5000 years ago.

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