A New Story of the Black Death

Lecture by Dr. Monica H. Green
Monday, October 1, 2018
4:00 PM
Institute for Environmental Sustainability
Room 123-124


The Black Death, the plague pandemic that ravaged Europe and north Africa between 1346 and 1353, has long been understood as the worst mortality event in human history. Estimates suggest that between 40 and 60% of the population died. Yet we are now learning that the Black Death likely struck an even wider geographic area: much of northern Eurasia as far east as China, and perhaps as far south as sub-Saharan Africa. And we are learning, too, that the new strains of plague involved in these massive expansions likely originated in the 13th century, a century before the pandemic is usually thought to have started, and many kept circulating throughout Afro-Eurasia until the 19th century. (Some of them persist to this day.) Knowledge of this expanded geography and chronology is one of the implications of the “new genetics of plague,” the development of a comprehensive evolutionary history of the microorganism Yersinia pestis. This talk will provide a summary of the latest findings on the Second Plague Pandemic, the role of the Mongol expansion, and the ways a “global health” framework of thinking can help us better understand the human connections that allow pandemics to arise.

Monica H. Green is Professor of History at Arizona State University. She specializes in medieval European medical history and the global history of infectious diseases. Currently, she is working on a book on learned medicine in the Long Twelfth Century (ca. 1070 to 1225) in western Europe, as well as a history of the Black Death, the largest pandemic in human history. She has published four books, many articles, and recently launched a blog devoted to the eleventh-century medical translator, Constantinus Africanus.

Why Choose Medieval Studies?

Your future employers—whatever you decide to do—want to see evidence of your broad range of interests, your skills in assessing and interpreting evidence, your critical thinking abilities, your foundation in the humanities, your keen curiosity about the world, your adaptability in using different methods and techniques to solve problems and your communication skills.

All of these skills and more are honed in the Medieval Studies minor. In addition, you will find that the cultural worlds of the Middle Ages are endlessly fascinating, both evocative of our age and very remote from it. In the Medieval Studies Program you will discover great literature, profound philosophy, groundbreaking theology, fabulous art and some the most interesting people you'll ever meet.

For more information, contact:

Professor Theresa Gross-Diaz: tgross@luc.edu

Top Photo

Siena, Palazzo Publico, Ambrogio Lorenzetti: The Good Government, second quarter 14th century.