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A slower yet more horrifying progression


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A slower yet more horrifying progression

Spread of the Black Death, 1349

Melissa Snell
Having infected virtually all of western Europe and half of central Europe in about 13 months, the illness began to spread more slowly. Most of Europe and Britain were now keenly aware that a horrible plague was among them. The more affluent fled the heavily-populated areas and retreated to the countryside, but almost everyone else had nowhere and no way to run.

By 1349, many of the areas that had initially been afflicted were beginning to see the end of the first wave. However, in the more heavily-populated cities it was only a temporary respite. Paris suffered several waves of plague, and even in the "off season" people were still dying.

Once again utillizing trade routes, the plague appears to have made its way to Norway via ship from Britain. One story has it that its first appearance was on a wool ship that sailed from London. One or more of the sailors had apparently been infected before the vessel's departure; by the time it reached Norway, the entire crew was dead. The ship drifted until it ran aground near Bergen, where some unwitting residents went aboard to investigate its mysterious arrival, and were thus infected themselves.

At the same time, a few areas in Europe managed to escape the worst. Milan, as was previously mentioned, saw little infection, possibly due to the drastic measures taken to prevent the spread of the illness. The lightly-populated and little-traveled region of southern France near the Pyrenees, between English-controlled Gascony and French-controlled Toulouse, saw very little plague mortality. And strangely enough the port city of Bruges was spared the extremes that other cities on the trade routes suffered, possibly due to a recent drop-off in trade activity resulting from the early stage of the Hundred Years War.

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