The Black Death was an epidemic that killed upward of one-third of the population of Europe between 1346 and 1353


The Black Death was an epidemic that killed upward of one-third of the population of Europe
between 1346 and 1353 (more on proportional mortality below). The precise specification
of the time span, particularly the end dates, varies by a year or so, depending on
the source. A less severe (but still potent) follow-on epidemic in 1361, ostensibly of the
same disease, is, by convention, separate from the Black Death. A common misconception
is that black refers to skin discolorations accompanying the disease. Black is meant in the
metaphorical sense of terrible. In fact, the term “Black Death” was not used until the middle
of the sixteenth century. Contemporaries called it the “pestilence”.