The Black Death and Great Plague


The Black Death

In 1348, the Black Death arrived in England. It had spread to Wales by 1349. Carmarthen, an important port, had the first cases but the disease soon spread across the whole country. Caldicot, Pembroke and Haverfordwest were all badly hit, while the lead miners of Holywell were virtually wiped out. Across Britain, it killed between a third and a half of the population. It was not only the numbers who died that terrified people, but the fact that it was so painful and affected rich and poor alike. Medical professionals at the time were at a loss to explain the causes of the plague. Various reasons were put forward. Today, we know that there are two main forms of plague.

  • Bubonic plague produced painful swellings (buboes). This form was mainly spread by rats.

  • Pneumonic plague attacked the victim’s lungs and was spread by personal contact.

However, there is still some debate about the exact cause of the plague. Some scientists believe that it was bubonic and spread


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