As above, can someone hypothesize why?

  • 1
    Not quite a duplicate but the answers to this question might shed some light on how it spread.
    – Steve Bird
    Commented Mar 1, 2017 at 7:06
  • Did it really? It first appeared in ports (and in the South, not the West of Europe per se) and spread from there, affecting cities the most. Did it take much longer to appear in Eastern Europe generally?
    – Relaxed
    Commented Mar 1, 2017 at 17:13

1 Answer 1


The reason was population density and maintenance of proper hygiene.

East Europe was mostly sparsely populated, while larger cities were the worst off, as population densities and close living quarters made disease transmission easier. Cities were also strikingly filthy, infested with lice, fleas, and rats, and subject to diseases related to malnutrition and poor hygiene.

According to journalist John Kelly, "woefully inadequate sanitation made medieval urban Europe so disease-ridden, no city of any size could maintain its population without a constant influx of immigrants from the countryside". The influx of new citizens facilitated the movement of the plague between communities, and contributed to the longevity of the plague within larger communities.

A few rural areas, such as Eastern Poland and Lithuania, had such low populations and were so isolated that the plague made little progress. Parts of Hungary and, in modern Belgium, the Brabant region, Hainaut, and Limbourg, as well as Santiago de Compostela, were unaffected for unknown reasons some historians have assumed that the presence of resistant blood groups in the local population helped them resist the disease.

  • 1
    I agree with rancho's ideas and would add that extreme winters might slow spread.
    – Jeff
    Commented Mar 1, 2017 at 16:13
  • 3
    You might want to add that the predominant sea-going trade routes would carry the plague through the Mediterranean and along the Atlantic coast more quickly than the overland routes into Northern and Eastern Europe. Commented Mar 1, 2017 at 17:59
  • @KillingTime You are free to edit my answer to improve it :)
    – rancho
    Commented Mar 1, 2017 at 18:06
  • 1
    @KillingTime: those trade route then circled back through the Baltic and up the rivers of Eastern Europe...
    – DJohnM
    Commented Mar 2, 2017 at 5:48
  • I am not sure one can reliably compare the hygiene standards in Eastern vs. Western Europe at that time. The key factor was most likely trade and density of population.
    – vpekar
    Commented Mar 3, 2017 at 17:56

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