Segments in this Video

Introduction: Black Death (01:29)


In 1349, the Black Death, the most lethal catastrophe in recorded history, reached Britain. Researchers excavated bodies of the dead.

Bubonic Plague (02:23)

Britain's preparation against biological warfare is centered in Porton Down, Wiltshire. Bubonic plague still exists, especially in Madagascar.

Plague Approaches Britain (01:59)

Bubonic plague spread near Britain's shores by 1348. Edward III's government made preparations; the plague killed his daughter.

Emergency Grave (00:56)

In anticipation of the spreading plague, Britain's government created a graveyard outside London, believed to be in what is now Charterhouse Square.

Archaeologists Access Grave (01:43)

Railway construction underneath London gave archaeologists access to a burial ground for plague victims.

Bone Analysis (02:12)

Researchers analyzed plague victims' skeletons, drawing demographic conclusions.

Death Toll Unknown (01:42)

The Black Plague's death toll in London has been a mystery; contemporary descriptions are vague on numbers.

Merchants' Wills (02:56)

From court records indicate the plague lasted nine months and killed 60% of London's population.

Shoemaker's Will (02:18)

A will written during the plague divides a shoemaker's property between his wife, his son, and a soon-to-be-born infant.

Vulnerability to Plague (03:04)

The Black Death left no direct trace on bones. Victims' bones reveal malnutrition and disease earlier in life, which would have weakened immune systems.

Famine and Plague (02:23)

Frequent famines, starting in 1290, left immune systems vulnerable to the Black Death.

London Avoids Collapse (01:40)

London's management of dead bodies reveals their resilience and administrative abilities, explaining how the city continued functioning.

Plague Victim Burials (01:59)

Edward III implemented a system of trenches for rapid, but ordered Christian burial- crucial to maintaining social stability.

Continued Search for Graves (01:46)

A researcher finds some burial grounds less densely packed than he expected. He concludes there are other burial sites not yet discovered.

Social Cohesion (01:14)

Like modern disaster planners, Edward III recognized that care for dead bodies is crucial for survivor morale.

Additional Burial Sites (02:02)

Radar mapping reveals possible burials in the Black Death cemetery, far beyond Charterhouse Square.

Bubonic Plague DNA (02:15)

Experts posited mutation to account for the rapid spread of Black Death. DNA analysis reveals DNA identical to modern strains.

Plague Contagions (00:57)

An expert believes the Bubonic Plague began spreading directly between people in the fourteenth century.

Suffolk Plague Outbreak (03:07)

In 1906, rats brought an Asian plague outbreak to Suffolk; an expert thinks humans spread it. A victim's descendant gives an account of the family and community.

Pneumonic Plague (01:15)

In Suffolk, the plague brought pneumonia when it entered victims' lungs, facilitating its direct spread.

Quarantine (04:06)

Londoners shut themselves off from outside contact, but were infected by family members; wills reveal relatives dying in rapid succession.

Summary: Black Death (02:06)

Skeletons indicate that famines weakened Londoners' immune systems before the Black Death. Rats brought plagues, but people spread it directly.

Credits: Return of the Black Death (00:30)

Credits: Return of the Black Death

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Return of the Black Death

DVD (Chaptered) Price: $300.00
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $450.00
3-Year Streaming Price: $300.00



What actually caused the Black Death—and how many people died—is still a mystery. Contemporary accounts tell how the Black Death killed rich and poor, old and young alike; how victims suffered from painful boils, bleeding from the ears and black spots. The world has seen nothing like it, before or since. Now, a new investigation of recently unearthed skeletons from a long-lost plague cemetery discovered beneath the streets of London could settle the hottest debate in history once and for all. Uncovering the crucial clues hidden in the bones of the victims, this fascinating film reveals exactly why this was the biggest killer in history; and what it can teach us about pandemics to come. A BBC Production.

Length: 47 minutes

Item#: BVL60503

ISBN: 978-1-60057-547-1

Copyright date: ©2014

Closed Captioned

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