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The Black Death: Pondering a past plague during today’s pandemic

historic illustration representing the plague

Editor's note: This is the first program in a series addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the 14th century, a virulent plague killed nearly half of Europe’s population. What can we learn from that time as we navigate COVID-19? 

We talk to ASU historian Hannah Barker about a time in history when the plague, a disease spread by rodents and their fleas, took the lives of tens of millions of people across Europe, Asia and Africa. We explore the parallels — and differences — between that time and our own, including social, medical and religious responses, and resulting seismic shifts in society.