The Bubonic Plague (the Black Plague) was in Europe between 1347 and 1350. In this short period 25 million people were killed. That was one-third of Europe's population at that time! Dead bodies littered the streets with thousands of people dying each week. Parents abandoned their children and parent-less children roamed the streets in search of food. Victims became delirious with pain and often lost their sanity. The Plague was a disaster that caused many dramatic changes in medieval Europe.
Before the Plague life for an ordinary man in the country was harsh. Many peasants lived on land that was provided to them by their lords. They were legally bound to serve the manor for life. The peasants could not leave their village without permission from their lord. Permission was never granted without a tax. They also had to pay taxes for crops, getting married, and to bury their dead in the churchyard. Some peasants saw no future in their lives and would flee to the city. This was not much better. The city was meant for specialists like shoemakers or carpenters. They would often have to settle for odd jobs, such as unloading wagons or cleaning stables. Many turned to stealing to support their families. City streets were very dirty and narrow. Mud on the ground would never dry because the sun could never reach it. Along with the mud human wastes were discarded through the window. People could not afford to burn wood so they would have to live in the cold and the dark.
In the fourteenth century, the town of Genoa was one of the busiest ports in Europe. Ships left from here to trade all over the Mediterranean Sea. In October of 1347, twelve ships sailed from Caffa to this port in Italy. There was something wrong with these ships. Dead bodies were lying all over the ships. Afraid that the disease might spread, city officials ordered that no merchandise or person may leave the ship.