[The black death in Norway]

Tidsskr Nor Laegeforen. 1990 Jun 30;110(17):2204-8.
[Article in Norwegian]


The old Icelandic annals tell that the Black Death came to Bergen, Norway, in 1349 with a ship from England. This was probably at the beginning of September. From Bergen the plague spread rapidly northwards and southwards along the coast and over land to Eastern Norway. The Black Death remained in Norway for approximately six months. The epidemic must have been started by infected black rats and rat fleas in the grain cargo of the ship. The account in the annals, and experiences from other countries, indicate that pneumonic plague was dominant in Bergen at the start of the epidemic. After that the Black Death must have spread partly as pneumonic plague but mainly probably as bubonic plague, transmitted via human fleas from person to person. The rats cannot have played a part except in the initial phase. The annals say that 2/3 of Norway's population died. This is probably a big exaggeration. The mortality in Norway can hardly have been more than 40-50%. Even this is high compared with an estimated mortality of approximately 33% in England and on the continent.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Disease Outbreaks / history*
  • History, Medieval
  • Humans
  • Norway / epidemiology
  • Plague / history*
  • Plague / mortality