Out of the West: Formation of a Permanent Plague Reservoir in South-Central Germany (1349-1356) and its Implications
Slavin P (2021) Out of the West: Formation of a Permanent Plague Reservoir in South-Central Germany (1349-1356) and its Implications. Past and Present, 252 (1), pp. 3-51. https://doi.org/10.1093/pastj/gtaa028
This article deals with the origins and spread of the second outbreak of fourteenth-century plague pandemic, the pestis secunda, which swept over West Eurasia and North Africa between 1356 and 1366. Unlike the Black Death, its immediate predecessor, which seems to have originated in Central Asia, the pestis secunda emerged in Central Germany, most likely in the Frankfurt region, in summer 1356. Having seeded its new reservoir, the plague radiated from Central Germany, a landlocked region, into other parts of West Eurasia and North Africa, via inland routes. The inland mode of transmission is at odds with the geographic spread of the Black Death, whereby the plague arrived in West Eurasian and North African ports via maritime trade routes. To appreciate the appearance of the Central Germany plague reservoir in the early 1350s, the wider ecological, climatic and socio-economic context of the Frankfurt region is scrutinized, on the basis of textual, palaeoclimatic and palaeogenetic evidence. Although beyond the remit of this article, it argues that the Central German reservoir may have become the origin of recurrent late-medieval and early-modern plague outbreaks.
Past and Present: Volume 252, Issue 1
|Publication date online||25/01/2021|