The Black Death is the worst plague disease ever to torment Europe. A third of Europe´s population may have died within a few years.
This is how the plague came to the Nordic countries:
In August 1349, an English merchant ship entered the harbour in the Norwegian town of Bergen. Everyone aboard was dead. The ship was taken into the harbour and the cargo was unloaded. A few days later, the people who had been on the ship got headaches and ran high temperatures. Some of them got dark spots on their body, others got large boils in their armpits. Most of them died within a couple of days. The plague had arrived to the Nordic countries.
In the spring of 1350, the plague spread to Sweden and Denmark. People died like flies. The towns were severely affected. There, people lived closely together, which made it possible for the disease to spread quickly. Many poor, lacking resistance against disease, quickly died. But the plague killed all kinds of people: noblemen, peasants, merchants and servants. Many priests, monks and nuns died, since they were caring for the sick. Of Sweden’s population of 600,000 people, perhaps as many as a third (200,000) died within a couple of years. Norway was even more seriously affected - in some provinces whole villages were deserted.
People who experienced the plague were horrified. Some of the descriptions from that time might seem exaggerated. An Italian writer described it like this:
"God help us! Sorrow everywhere, everywhere horror! The houses are empty, the towns are deserted, the fields are abandoned, the roads are covered with dead bodies. There is terrible desolation everywhere. Would you who live long after this believe it? Because we who are witnesses to this, can hardly believe it."
The plague disappeared from the Nordic countries after a few years, but later, it came back. The years 1363-66, 1393-99, 1404-06, 1411-16 are also known as plague years.