Mortality and demographic recovery in early post-black death epidemics: Role of recent emigrants in medieval Dijon

Autoři: Pierre Galanaud aff001;  Anne Galanaud aff002;  Patrick Giraudoux aff003;  Henri Labesse aff004
Působiště autorů: Université Paris-Saclay, Inserm, Inflammation, Microbiome and Immunosurveillance, Clamart, France aff001;  Université de Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, Besançon, France aff002;  Chrono-environnement, Université de Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, CNRS UMR6249, Besançon, France aff003;  Paris Sorbonne—Paris 4 Université, Institut des Sciences Humaines Appliquées, Paris, France aff004
Vyšlo v časopise: PLoS ONE 15(1)
Kategorie: Research Article


Objective and methods

We analyze the influence of population movement on susceptibility to death and resilience during two epidemics occurring in Dijon soon after the Black Death. Using a specific program designed to propose links between entries in annual tax registers, we define tentative heads of household, the elapsed time since their first registration and their ties with other persons within the city.


During the 1400 epidemic heads of household who were registered for 1–3 years die in large numbers, whereas during years without epidemics, their death rate is lower than that of heads of household who were registered longer. Recent registration is an epidemic vulnerability factor only in association with a low taxation status, which, when isolated, does not influence mortality. A lack of familial ties within Dijon is another vulnerability factor among the recently registered. This suggests that poor, recent emigrants are more affected by epidemic mortality. In contrast, the mortality of recently registered heads of household is indistinct during a later epidemic occurring after several years of major famine that may have selected the more resistant emigrants and/or excluded the more miserable of them from our analysis. In contrast to the first one, this second epidemic is followed by rapid demographic recovery. This latter recovery is fully explained by the contribution of poor, newly registered heads of household without ties in Dijon.


Our results outline the interaction between population movement and low socioeconomic status on death susceptibility in historical plagues and show that poor recent emigrants may also be key players in the resilience of the population after an epidemic.

Klíčová slova:

Death rates – Europe – Chi square tests – Infectious disease epidemiology – Professions – Socioeconomic aspects of health – Plagues – Black death


1. Buttler TH. Plague Gives Surprises in the First Decade of the 21st Century in the United States and Worldwide. Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2013;89(4): 788–793. doi: 10.4269/ajtmh.13-0191 24043686

2. Bramanti B, Stenseth NC, Walloe L, Lei X. Plague: A Disease Which Changed the Path of Human Civilization. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2016;918: 1–26. doi: 10.1007/978-94-024-0890-4_1 27722858

3. Alfani G, Murphy TE. Plague and Lethal Epidemics in the Pre-Industrial World. Journal of Economic History. 2017;77(1): 314–343. doi: 10.1017/S0022050717000092

4. Benedictow OJ. The Black death (1346–1353): the complete history. Woodbridge, Rochester: the Boydell press; 2004.

5. Biraben JN. [Hygiene, disease, death]. In: Dupâquier J, editor. [History of French population. 1 From the origins to Renaissance]. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France; 1988. p. 421–62. French.

6. Hays JN. Epidemics and pandemics: their impacts on human history ( 2005. p 46. ISBN 1-85109-658-2.

7. Green MH. Editor’s introduction. Pandemic Disease in the Medieval World: Rethinking the Black Death. Medieval Globe. Kalamazoo & Bradford: Arc Medieval Pres; 2015.

8. Drancourt M, Aboudharam G, Signoli M, Dutour O, Raoult D. Detection of 400 year-old Yersinia pestis DNA in human dental pulp: An approach to the diagnosis of ancient septicemia. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 1998; 95: 12628 (37–12640.

9. Bos KI, Schuenemann VJ, Golding GB, Burbano H, Waglechner N, Coombes BK et al. A draft genome of Yersinia pestis from victims of the Black Death. Nature. 2011; 478: 506–510. doi: 10.1038/nature10549 21993626

10. Bos KI, Stevens P, Nieselt K, Poinar HN, DeWitte SN, Krause J. Yersinia Pestis: New Evidence for an Old Infection. PLoS ONE. 2012;7(11): e49803. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0049803 23209603

11. Bos KI, Herbig A, Sahl J, Waglechner N, Fourment M, Forrest SA et al. Eighteenth century Yersinia pestis genomes reveal the long-term persistence of an historical plague focus. eLife. 2016;5:e12994. doi: 10.7554/eLife.12994 26795402

12. Seifert L, Wiechmann I, Harbeck M, Thomas A, Grupe G, Projahn M et al. Genotyping Yersinia pestis in Historical Plague: Evidence for Long-Term Peristence of Y. pestis in Europe from the 14th to the 17th Century. PLoS ONE. 2016;13;11(1):e0145194. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0145194 26760973

13. Hatcher J. Plague, population and the English economy, 1348–1530 (studies in economic and social history). London: Macmillan; 1977.

14. Carmichael AG. Plague and the poor in Renaissance Florence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 1986.

15. DeWitte SN, Wood JW. Selectivity of Black Death mortality with respect to preexisting health. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2008;105: 1436–41. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0705460105 18227518

16. DeWitte SN. The effect of sex on risk of mortality during the Black Death in London. Am J Phys Anthropol. 2009;139(2): 222–34. doi: 10.1002/ajpa.20974 19140182

17. DeWitte SN. Age Patterns of Mortality During the Black Death in London, A.D. 1349–1350. J Archeol Sci. 2010;37(12): 3394–3400.

18. Castex D, Kacki S. Demographic patterns distinctive of epidemic cemeteries in archeological samples. Microbiology Spectrum. 2016;4(4). doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.PoH-0015-2015 27726822

19. Cohn SK, Alfani G. Households and Plague in Early Modern Italy. J Interdisciplinary History. 2007;31 (38)(2): 177–205.

20. Curtis DR, Roosen J. The sex-selective impact of the Black Death and recurring plagues in the Southern Netherlands, 1349–1450. Am J Phys Anthropol. 2017;164: 246–259. doi: 10.1002/ajpa.23266 28617987

21. Borsch S, Sabraa T. Refugees of the Black Death: Quantifying rural migration for plague and other environmental disasters. Annales de démographie historique 2017/2(n° 134): 63–93. doi: 10.3917/adh.134.0063

22. Alfani G, Bonetti M. A survival analysis of the last great European plagues: The case of Nonantola (Northern Italy) in 1630. Popul Stud (Camb). 2019 Mar;73(1):101–118. doi: 10.1080/00324728.2018.1457794 29770727

23. Kendall EJ, Montgomery J, Evans JA, Stantis C, Mueller V. Mobility, mortality, and the middle ages: Identification of migrant individuals in a 14th century black death cemetery population. Am J Phys Anthropol. 2013;150(2):210–22. doi: 10.1002/ajpa.22194 23225220

24. Childs W. Moving around. In Horrox R, Ormrod M, editors. A social history of England 1200–1500. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 2006. pp. 260–275.

25. Hotez PJ. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Tropical Medicine in the Fight against Plague, Death, Famine and War. Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2012;87(1): 3–10. doi: 10.4269/ajtmh.2012.11-0814 22764283

26. Richard J. [The dukes of Burgundy and the settlement of the dukedom from the 11th to the 14th century]. New ed. Geneva: Slatkine reprints; 1986. French.

27. Dubois H. [Population and tax system in Burgundy at the end of Middle Ages]. C. R. de l'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres. 1984;128(4): 540–55. French.

28. Galanaud A. [Demography and Society in Dijon at the end of Middle Ages (1357–1447) from on a computer-based analysis of the marcs tax registers]. PhD thesis in History, Franche-Comté University, 2009. French. Available:

29. Galanaud P, Galanaud A, Giraudoux P. Historical Epidemics Cartography Generated by Spatial Analysis: Mapping the Heterogeneity of Three Medieval "Plagues" in Dijon. PLoS ONE. 2015;10(12): e0143866. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0143866 26625117

30. Roosen J, Curtis DR. The 'light touch' of the Black Death in the Southern Netherlands: an urban trick? Econ Hist Rev. 2019;72(1):32–56. doi: 10.1111/ehr.12667 31007273

31. Campbell BMS. The Great Transition: Climate, Disease and Society in Late Medieval World. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 2016

32. Camenisch C, Keller KM, Salvisberg M, Amann B, Bauch M, Blumer S et al. The 1430s: a cold period of extraordinary internal climate variability during the early Spörer Minimum with social and economic impact in north-western and central Europe. Clim Past. 2016;12: 2107–2126. doi: 10.5194/cp-12-2107-2016

33. Gras P. [The Givry parish register (1334–1357) and Black Death in Burgundy]. Bibliothèque de l'École des Chartes, 1939;100: 295–308. French.

34. Higounet-Nadal A. [Périgueux in the 14th and 15th centuries: Historical demography studies]. Bordeaux: Fédération Historique du Sud-Ouest; 1978. French, p 274.

35. Signoli M, Séguy I, Biraben JN, Dutour O. [Paleodemography and historical demography in epidemic context: Plague in Provence in the 18th century]. Population. 2002;57: 829–854.

36. Bramanti B, Zedda N, Rinaldo N, Gualdi-Russo E. A critical review of anthropological studies on skeletons from European plague pits of different epochs. Sci Rep. 2018 Dec 5;8(1): 17655. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-36201-w 30518882

37. Séguy I, Pennec S, Tzortzis S, Signoli M. [Modeling the impact of the plague through the example of Martigues]. In Buchet L, Dauphin C, Séguy I, editors. Paleodemography, bones memory, human memory. Antibes: APDCA; 2006. French.

38. Cohn SK Jr. The Black Death transformed: disease and culture in early Renaissance Europe. London: Arnold; 2002.

39. Whittles LK, Didelot X. Epidemiological analysis of the Eyam plague outbreak of 1665–1666. Proc R Soc B. 2016;283(1830). pii: 20160618. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2016.0618 27170724

40. Cummins N, Kelly M, O'Grada C. Living standards and plague in London, 1560–1665. The Economic History Review. 2016;69(1): 3–34. doi: 10.1111/ehr.12098

41. Curtis DR. Was plague an exclusively urban phenomenon? Plague mortality in the seventeenth-century Low Countries. Journal of Interdisciplinary History. 2016;47(2): 139–170.

42. Biraben JN. [The disease]. In Favier J, editor. Medieval France. Paris: Fayard; 1983. French, p 71.

43. DeWitte SN. Mortality Risk and Survival in the Aftermath of the Medieval Black Death. PLoS ONE. 2014;9(5): e96513. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0096513 24806459

44. Bailey M. Peasant welfare in England, 1290–1348. Econ Hist Rev. 1998;51: 223–251.

45. Scott S, Duncan CJ, Duncan SR. The plague in Penrith, Cumbria, 1597/8: its causes, biology and consequences. Ann Hum Biol. 1996;23: 1–21. doi: 10.1080/03014469600004232 8815782

Článek vyšel v časopise


2020 Číslo 1
Nejčtenější tento týden