Black Death

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Which country was most affected by the Black Death?

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It is impossible to answer this question because historians do not have comprehensive records of the death toll for every country that was affected by the Black Death. Essentially, some areas kept records and some did not. Instead, historians have estimated that the population of Europe, as a whole, was decimated by the plague, with a total population loss of between one-third and 50%.

However, historians have noted that the Black Death affected some areas more than others. According to these statistics from Carson-Newman University, the death rate in the Italian city of Florence was 90%—this is the highest known figure. In addition, the French town of Caux in Normandy reportedly lost 66% of its population. Compare this to England, which had a mortality rate of between 30% and 40%, and you get a better understanding of these figures. 

What we can say, then, is that France and Italy suffered greatly from the Black Death, with some towns and cities losing well over half of their residents.

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Because of the lack of good demographic information it is very difficult to say which country was most affected by the black death.  It came to Europe through Sicily and moved quickly to Italy.  High centers of population were hit particularly hard.  Florence lost over 65,000 people, probably more than 1/2 of its population. If you read the statistics you often see a staggering number of deaths in the Italian cities quoted, but to draw the conclusion that Italy was the hardest hit can be misleading, since Italy had the best statistical information it is frequently quoted.  English estimates say that their country lost 1.5 million inhabitants out of an estimated 4 million.  Whole villages and monasteries were lost while other villages were spared.  Estimates of deaths vary greatly from 1/4 if the population to over 1/2 of the population of Europe.  The number of deaths overflowed any recordkeeping of the times.  The dead were often just flung into pits and covered with lime, never being named or recorded.  Many times there were no funerals for the dead as the rest of their family's had died too, and priests and monks died in higher percentages than the rest since doing their duty put them in contact with those from the plague.  While most accounts of the plague focus on Europe, the plague came from Asia and we have little idea of how many deaths it caused there.  Below are some good sites to check.

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