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8HI - Black Death: Home

Historical inquiry developing a greater knowledge and understanding of the Black Death

Featured information books - Black Death

Middle Ages overview

Deadly diseases infographic

World Population Map

Learn about the impact of population growth and important milestones in human history and view other key data including land use, fertility rates, CO2 emissions, life expectancy, and urbanization.Learn about the impact of population growth and important milestones in human history and view other key data including land use, fertility rates, CO2 emissions, life expectancy, and urbanization.

Dance of the Dead

Children are not frequent subjects of medieval art, but the figure of the child does occur in a medieval artistic and literary form known as the Danse macabre or Dance of the Dead. Originating before 1348, this art form was not the result of the plague epidemics, but medieval artists found the iconic image a useful means to express the morbid and anxious views of death prevalent in the later medieval and early modern periods. Poems and murals painted on the walls of churches depicted Death, portrayed by skeletons, as drawing all members of society, from the highest secular and religious officials, down to the lowest, such as the peasant, beggar, and child, into a deadly dance to the grave. The human subjects express their dismay as intractable Death is not swayed by their riches or pleas for mercy. Although, again, this artistic form is not directly related to plague, it can be noted for our purposes that it is death that separates the child from his or her family and not the family that has abandoned the child to die.



Marchant, Guy. La danse macabre. Paris, 1485. Facsimile. Annotated by Shona Kelly Wray.


Crash Course - In which John Green teaches you about disease, and the effects that disease has had in human history. Disease has been with man since the beginning, and it has shaped the way humans operate in a lot of ways. John will teach you about the Black Death, the Great Dying, and the modern medical revolution that has changed the world.

Middle Ages medicine


Online encyclopaedias are great for short, concise and correct information. Search by the key words black death or plague. Don't forget these encyclopaedias have ready made citations and read aloud facility.

  • Variety of reading levels
  • Quality resources including text, images, videos and ‘Web’s Best Sites’
  • Read aloud facility
  • Size your font up or down
  • Ready-made citation

  • Easy-to-understand articles
  • Built-in research tool
  • Text-to-speech tool can read aloud


It is best to open the encyclopaedia pages from the portal and then search for an article. Suggested articles include:

Online databases:

An online collection of magazine and newspaper articles as well as interview transcripts, images and videos. You can sort your results by publication, full text versions and even date. Online databases are available through the portal and many require specific login details.

EBSCO has a specialized history database so it may be best to use this first. 

Suggested articles would include:

  • The Black Plague: Discusses the Black Death, the plague that ravaged the European population during the fourteenth century. Origins of the plague; How climate change and crop failure made people more susceptible to disease; Symptoms of the plague; Reactions of religious and other groups to the spread of the plague; Political, economic, and social impact of the epidemic.
  • BRITAIN 1400: Deals with the social conditions in Britain in the fourteenth century. How the Black Death was introduced to England; Symptoms of the disease; Other catastrophes to hit the British Isles in the 1400s; Consequences of population decline; Benefits for those who survived the catastrophe; Most striking phenomena of the period.
  • Black Death in Europe: The invasion of the Black Death, or plague, created physical and psychological devastation, but also brought an end to Church domination in the Middle Ages and ushered in numerous social and economic reforms.

Some of these databases allow text-to-speech or even downloading the audio. This is great if you listen while you highlight keywords in the text.

For example:

ClickView videos

Make sure you take notes while you watch videos. Stop and start as required:



How the Black Death worked: Black Death, an epidemic of bubonic plague that appeared in Europe in the 1300's. The origin of the name is uncertain; it may come from a mis-translation of the Latin atra mors ("terrible death"). The Black Death was the most dreadful plague in the history of Europe. Historians estimate that in three years the plague killed at least one-third of Europe's population. Its severity was due in part to the people's low resistance to disease; most suffered from years of malnutrition.

Listen to a podcast of this article

Make sure you take notes as you listen

Primary source suggestions

Primary source materials are first-hand accounts typically produced at the time of the event. Examples might include artwork, plays, poems, songs, letters, journals and writings from that time period.

Analyzing primary source materials

Historians study the sources that the past has left behind. No statement about the past can carry conviction unless it can be supported by reference to the historical sources, the evidence upon which historians base their ideas and interpretations. Historians inevitably spend a lot of time reading each other's writings, but the real historical work is done – and the real enjoyment is to be had – in studying the sources, the actual 'stuff' of history. 

Are there any useful primary source analysis tips in your text book? There will be many online guides as to how to analyze your source but here are a few:

Black Death

The past, present and future of the Bubonic Plague

The Black Death


The Great Plague - The Black Death - Timeline: 

The Great Plague of 1665 killed 100,000 Londoners – one in three of the people living in the city. While kept diaries have provided terrifying testaments to the horrors of that summer, other stories have been hidden in the archives of London churches for centuries. Rare documents unearthed in some of the cities oldest places of worship now tell the story of what it was like for an ordinary person, more often than not living in poverty, as the plague swept through London. This factual drama follows the lives of those living in Cock and Key Alley, one of the dank and dismal yards squeezed between Fleet Street and the Thames – and brings to life 17th Century London at one of its most frightening moments.

Reference generator

It is important that you show your teacher you used a variety of reliable resources. Use the online Reference Generator available through the Portal to create your citations. Make sure you alphabetically sort them afterwards.

A sample bibliography for 3 resources provided on this page would look like:

The Black Death n.d., Science Museum, accessed 4 May 2016,


Black Death 2016. Britannica School. Retrieved 4 May 2016, from

Robson, P 1996, All About The Great Plague, MacDonald, Hove.