Black Death

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The Black Death 1348 to 1350

The Black Death in Sprowston like the whole of the country decimated the population, the actual death toll within Sprowston is unknown but the estimated population of the country was 4 million of which one and a half million were to perish. For years this was considered to be Bubonic Plague which is normally carried by fleas whose normal hosts are rats. Present thinking after much research has dismissed this theory due to the very rapid spread of the plague. Having evaluated the available data it is far more likely the Black Death was pneumonic plague, it appears that this was exactly the same plague but it had mutated to such an extent that is now known to have be an airborne infection.

In the 14th century with so little known about the mechanism of transfer of germs and viruses the population had no idea of how to stop or at the least slow the spread of the plague. A lack of personal hygiene and insanitary living conditions meant once the epidemic was underway there was no stopping it and in essence natural selection came into play. There were precious few who survived the infection, in most cases death would occur within three days. Strangely it is reported victims never seemed to suffer a fever which would accompany such infections. The result of the plague was to be felt by the population that remained, initially there was an unwillingness to travel and trade. Many smaller villages abandoned their homes, setting up new dwellings on land well away from the area of infection. The population depleted, frequently communities had problems fulfilling all the roles within the community and this had an adverse effect on both agriculture and trade in general. Unlike some villages which just died Sprowston was to survive and rebuild.