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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

History of Contagion in Europe: Plague / The Black Death

A guide for researching the history of infectious diseases in Europe and their impact on European society.


The term "plague" refers to not one but several major outbreaks in the course of European history and around the world.  Three severe pandemics decimated Europe and neighboring regions between 541 and 1894.

  • 541-544 The Plague of Justinian
  • 1347-1352 The Black Death
  • 1894 The Third Plague Pandemic

Various populations around the globe have suffered from plague outbreaks in addition to those named above. Please visit the video below if you would like an introduction to the history of the plague.  Other resources on this page include books, primary sources, databases, and more.  More general resources from the home page will also be useful.

Books at UIUC

Please hover over book titles for descriptions.

EUC Virtual Lecture Series: "Living with the Plague: Lessons from Medieval Europe."

Plague 101

Databases: Medieval Europe

Primary Sources at UIUC

Please hover over book titles for descriptions.

Non-UIUC Links and Resources