History and Historiography

New study: The Black Death did not kill half of Europe’s population

An international research group has found that the pandemic affected different areas of Europe differently. Norway may have been hit hard.

The Black Death ravaged Europe in the years around 1350.

It became the most notorious pandemic in human history, although the plague and other infectious diseases struck Europe a number of times before and after.

A common assumption has been that the Black Death took the lives of half of the population — both in Norway and in the rest of Europe.

Did 65 per cent of the population die?

Some estimates — based on historical sources —suggest that as much as 65 per cent of Europe’s population died.

The researchers behind the new study, published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, believe this may be an exaggeration.

Erik Daniel Fredh is a researcher at the Museum of Archaeology in Stavanger and the sole participant from a Norwegian research institution in this international study.

“We find that the Black Death was completely devastating for some regions in Europe,” he says to sciencenorway.no. “But we find little or no impact in other regions.”


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