The Black Death in the Middle East and Europe
Lecture by Stuart Borsch, Assistant Professor in History Department at Assumption College
Given at the Epidemics Then & Now: Infectious Diseases Around the World conference at the University of Chicago on June 27, 2006
Introduction: What I’m going to be talking about now is sort of looking at the other end at the disease spectrum, looking specifically at the aftershocks the effects disease, the impact love mortality on the structure of society. I was just reading in Time or Newsweek magazine they’re talking about the possible outbreak up an epidemic from the asian flu virus and it said the article claimed that it would result in the loss of 2.5 percent to the world’s population and that 2.5 percent is a rate of mortality is enough to bring down the government or even an entire civilization.
I don’t know if that’s true but what we’re looking at in the case of the Black Death, the plague in the 14th and 15th centuries, is a loss a population on the order of between 30 and 50 percent. So we’re looking at huge losses of population and this had very serious repercussions throughout Europe and the Middle East. I specifically look at England and Egypt as case studies and I’m really gonna talk more about Egypt here.