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An Insidious Spread

Spread of the Black Death Jul.-Dec. 1348


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Spread of the Black Death Jul.-Dec. 1348

An Insidious Spread

Melissa Snell
Once the disease had traveled along most of the trade routes in Europe, its exact course becomes more difficult -- and in some areas nearly impossible -- to plot. We know that it had penetrated into Bavaria by June, but its course across the rest of Germany is uncertain. And while the south of England was also infected by June of 1348, the worst of the epidemic didn't strike the majority of Great Britain until 1349.

In Spain and Portugal, the plague crept inland from the port cities at a somewhat slower pace than in Italy and France. In the war at Granada, the Muslim soldiers were the first to succumb to the illness, and so horrific did they find it that some feared it was Allah's punishment and even contemplated converting to Christianity. Before any could take so drastic a step, however, their Christian enemies were also struck down by the hundreds, making it plain that the plague took no notice of religious affiliation.

It was in Spain that the only ruling monarch to die of the disease met his end. The advisors of King Alfonse XI of Castile begged him to isolate himself, but he refused to leave his troops. He fell ill and died on March 26, 1350: Good Friday.

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