Some interesting tidbits:
- The term "Black Death" was not used until 1631. Fourteen century contemporaries called it the "Great Mortality."
- Prior to the Great Mortality, Europe was on the verge of Malthusian deadlock. Without intending to sound heartless . . . the epidemic actually helped control the population boom.
- There are two types of disease associated with the bacteria Yersinia pestis, bubonic and pneumonic. Bubonic plague, which is transmitted by rat fleas, is the most common form, while pneumonic plague is airborne and more fatal. (Bubonic plague can develop into pneumonic plague, though.) If you want to use the analogy of cancer, then bubonic plague is like malignant tumor and pneumonic is like metastasis.
- Two important factors in the dissemination of the plague are natural disaster (including the sudden change of weather pattern, which drove wild rodents away from their natural habitat and into contact with humans) and travel (trade and Mongol invasion).