I was surprised to learn that the Black Death (great plague of the 14th century and later) was such a disaster to the world that the likes of it had not been recorded before. According to the Traveler’s guide chapter 9, it was the worst human disaster until the 20th century. I decided to look into it more.
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the Black Death originated in China, and moved west from there. The nomadic King, Kipchak Khan, saw it decimate his ranks while attacking Genoese port of Kaffa. From there, it spread until it reached the northernmost extreme of Scotland.  It is believed that it was a bacterial disease, and that origin in that attack on the Genoese port allowed the Genoese to carry it to Europe, where it ravaged the population.  Once there, the plague stuck around. It reached a peak by 1350, but popped up again and again until at least after 1400. 
The plague hit Bristol, a port town, really hard.  Once there, it is recorded that there were too few living to bury the dead and that “almost the whole strength of the town perished.”
It is hard to consider what it took out of a community when this much death was ravaging it. In Bristol, it was bad enough to the point where they could not handle the death, but when it got to London, it caused death to spike to the point of 200 deaths a day; it increased cemetery production to the point where they couldn’t keep up. 
The plague hit the poor the hardest, but also seemed to encourage insurrection as well. Toward the end of the plague recurrences the Peasant’s revolt rose up in England as part of a larger increase in awareness of the common man’s plight. 
The plague had a huge influence on the spirituality of the time. As the Traveler’s guide says in the chapter on health, people often believed that the sicknesses they had in this time were punishment for sin. Priests died often of the plague from doing last rights.  They often had to take care of the sick, and in doing so were the ones most likely to contract the disease. This lead to the stories about famous saints such as Catherine of Siena, who tended to the sick. 
The black plague ravaged Asia and Europe. It killed between one and two thirds of the Eurasian population.  There seemed to be no escape from the onslaught of the plague. However, the massive destruction brought on by the plague caused some interesting changes in the world in which it struck. People had to get used to death more, citizens demanded more rights, and church workers ended up on the forefront of the battle against the disease. While none of that make the larges human disaster before the first World War a happy or acceptable thing, it does show something about human resilience. Though they fought this terrible disease in the 14th century, it could be linked to social changes that would come later.
- Britannica Academic, s.v. “Black Death,” accessed April 7, 2017, http://academic.eb.com/levels/collegiate/article/Black-Death/15473.