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According to this view, the First Pandemic was the Plague of Justinian, which began in the sixth century C. E., with recurrent outbreaks for about two centuries thereafter. The Black Death of 1347–1351 and subsequent visitations of the plague, including the Great Plague that hit London in 1665, constituted the Second Pandemic.
1347–13–1362) from bioarchaeological and historical perspectives, focusing on attempts to reconstruct mortality patterns and addressing the questions: Who died in England during the Black Death? We evaluate how historical and bioarchaeological sources are uniquely informative about these questions and highlight the limitations that are associated with each type of data.
The combination of the two bodies of evidence, when possible, can provide insights that are not possible when each is analyzed in isolation.
Their descriptions are broadly similar, pointing to fever, headache, lethargy, dark patches or small black pustules on the skin, and buboes or swollen lymph glands in the armpit, groin, or neck. Its main symptoms are exactly those described by medieval sources: headache, chills, nausea, and fever followed by hard and increasingly painful swellings near lymph nodes in the neck behind the ears, armpits, and groin.
Other symptoms included nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and the coughing up of blood., Boccaccio describes the “plague-boils” of the Black Death as “certain swellings, either in the groin or under the armpits, whereof some waxed of the bigness of a common apple, others like unto an egg, some more and some less.” The English chronicler Geoffrey le Baker wrote that victims “were tormented by boils which broke out suddenly in various parts of the body, and were so hard and dry that when they were lanced hardly any liquid flowed out. Septicemic and pneumonic plague usually develop secondarily to bubonic plague, but can rarely occur as primary diseases if the plague bacillus infects the bloodstream or lungs, respectively, without first infecting the lymphatic system., and the proportions of infected individuals who die from different forms of untreated plague are high, ranging from 30 to 60 percent for bubonic and septicemic plague and approaching 100 percent for pneumonic plague.
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Lists kept in bishop’s registers recording the appointments of parish priests to newly vacant posts are a more reliable source for studying the chronological and geographical distribution of the Black Death in England.
The dates and location of these “institutions to benefices,” offer a rough guide to the pace and spread of the plague, indicating that around 45 percent of the beneficed parish clergy died in the course of just over twelve months.
Some chroniclers offer more precise trajectories for individual locales, as did Robert of Avesbury, a London clerk who wrote that the plague arrived in London on All Saints Day (1 November 1348), was especially virulent from Candelmas (2 February) to Easter (12 April), and ended around Pentecost ().
A few medieval observers venture an estimate of the Black Death’s duration in England in noting that the 1348–1349 plague “lasted for a whole year” in England although at least one tracked it at two years.