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31 History Facts!

21. Why is it called a ‘Quarantine’?

The reaper in the Black Death (Wikimedia Commons)


Long before any modern-day epidemic, it was the Black Plague that devastated the world. Like corona, it originated in Asia and spread fast into Europe. Unlike corona, the Black Plague is estimated to have killed 30% to 60% of Europe’s population and reached a death toll of 200million people in Eurasia.

In an effort to contain the epidemic, the Venetian state enforced a prevention measure named ‘Quaranta Giorni’ – a 40-day isolation policy of ships and people before entering the city. Sounds familiar? – Quaranta means 40 in Italian, hence ‘Quarantaine’.

Bonus fact 1: In 1346, during the siege over Caffa (in modern-day Ukraine) the Mongol army Kahn ordered to throw over the wall and into the besieged city corpus of soldiers infected by the plague. Some assert that this act introduced the black death to Europe.

Bonus fact 2: In 1763, during Pontiac’s Rebellion, British officer Jeffrey Amherst and Swiss-British officer Henry Bouquet gave Native American blankets deliberately infected with chickenpox. Chickenpox after Pontiac’s rebellion brought death upon 400,000 to 1.5 million Native Americans.

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