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arvistro
13-05-15, 07:34
Slavic expansion period after 500 AD included Justinian plague
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plague_of_Justinian
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Early_Slavs

But here is info on black death of Medieval
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Death

especially interesting is this picture
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Death#/media/File:Blackdeath2.gif

If you look at that gif for 2-3 seconds (until at least 1351 year) you will notice that all Europe is impacted except for small grey areas near Milan and big area Cracow and East of it.

Basically I was checking some info on Black Death and noticed the picture. It made me think. Since Slavic expansion coincided with Justinian Plague (post-Justinian Plague period), and since for Black Death it is known that areas (East Poland?) were not impacted. Could it be that Slavic tribes had genetical something that made them more resistant to plague?

If so, could it be that Slavic tribes originally living in grey area had genetical thing that let them resist the plague which killed over 50% of Europe and expanded from the grey area into all directions to the vacant post-plague lands?

Just speculative question, hope people with knowledge on the subject can comment :)

bicicleur
13-05-15, 09:19
probably the densest populations were most infected by the plague, while isolated communities escaped from the plague
it is a fact that when Slavs entered the Balkans, it was decimated and weakened by the plague

LeBrok
13-05-15, 16:15
Do you mean that Slavs only lived around Crocow?

Angela
13-05-15, 16:55
The issue is discussed here:
http://history.stackexchange.com/questions/16699/why-was-poland-spared-from-the-black-death

Quite interesting.

I'm not sure about the accuracy of the gif, however. If this source is accurate, one quarter of Poland's population died of the plague, not much better than the European average of, what, a third? Of course, that's much better than in some parts of Europe. A village near me, Fivizzano, lost 90% of its population. I've often wondered about the effect of the plague on European genetics, but a recent study maintained there wasn't any effect.


Poland lost about a quarter of its population to the plague (...) Milan's death rate was less than 15%, probably the lowest in Italy save a few Alpine villages.
- Gottfried, Robert S. Black Death. New York: The Free Press, 1983.


I would definitely think that isolation geographically far from the main trade routes, urbanization/population density, etc. would all have played a part, but as a poster pointed out, Scandinavia was hard hit. Unless perhaps they were still less isolated from trade than Poland because they were on the sea routes? Also, were peasants at that time in Poland still mandated to stay in their villages, so very little travel?

Perhaps a more important factor is that in the beginning, in the places along the initial trade routes, they didn't understand how important it was to stay away from the sick. Later on it must have become more obvious. Good leadership verging on the ruthless may have played a role too. Milano, even if inland, and so affected later, was hardly isolated or rural by the standards of the time, and its rate, if the quotes are correct, was even lower than in Poland...15% In both Milano and areas in Poland and other scattered places they apparently walled themselves off from the sick in a more Draconian manner than in other places. Some Florentine aristocrats and wealthy merchants did the same in Florence if Boccaccio is to be believed.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Decameron

Anyway, the end result today is that scientists think that perhaps the places hardest hit by the plague are the ones most resistant to HIV.
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/library/10/4/l_104_05.html

Everything that doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right? Horrific but true, perhaps, in this case.

arvistro
13-05-15, 17:22
The genius idea is that

People who are most genetically similar to initial plague resistors..
...after 1300 AD lived in those grey areas

Before 500 AD different tribes also Slavic lived around Europe...
..after plague those who had better resistance to plague and lived in/near fertile lands could populate semi-emptied other lands.

If this or nearby (since people move) piece of land around 500 AD was Slavic and plague resistant and on fertile ground - you get expansion.

It does not need to be only Slavic place for this theory, it has to be Slavic place.
Even more so, it only needs to be place where those genes of initial expansionists were best preserved on 1300, maybe around 500 AD they were some other nearby place that covered parts of grey area.

Just throwing out ideas for discussion. Slavic expansion after 500 AD is not that well explained.

arvistro
13-05-15, 17:24
Or maybe not :) if it is one quarter in Poland vs 1/3 in Europe, it is not that much of difference :)

Angela
13-05-15, 17:54
Or maybe not :) if it is one quarter in Poland vs 1/3 in Europe, it is not that much of difference :)

Indeed. Also, since when is Milano a "Slavic place"? At 15% death rate, they would be the most resistant genetically in Europe if that was the cause.

LeBrok
13-05-15, 18:36
We have to keep it in mind that the death rate is just very rough estimations. As well there would have been 1/3rd or 1/5th of deaths not 1/4.

Could Slavs had some protection against Justinian plague? As total protection of population, No, they were not that genetically different than other Europeans. Fatalistically, Yes, for the lack of detailed knowledge to assume otherwise, there is no reason to conclude that they wouldn't have a better survival rate.

However, the major Slavic kept happening for 200 years after the plague.

arvistro
13-05-15, 20:03
I wonder though if Polish quarter estimate is about Modern Poland territory (read Prussians!) or the grey area in picture.
Prussians I think had high death rates.

Tomenable
22-05-15, 02:33
If this source is accurate, one quarter of Poland's population died of the plague

Henryk Samsonowicz in his book "Golden Autumn of Polish Middle Ages" (in Polish), gives data on relative population density - if in ca. 1300-1340 we describe population density of each country as "100", then this is how things changed in the next two centuries:



Years
England
France
Norway
Germany
Poland


ca. 1300-1340
100
100
100
100
100


ca. 1400-1450
70
72
66
80
166


ca. 1500-1580
90
110
76
123
248




So the idea that Poland was - at least relatively (compared to others) - unaffected by the Black Death, seems to be quite true.

But I don't think that it had something to do with genetic immunity to the disease.

And - even if that was the case - then that would have been immunity of Poles specifically, not of Slavs as a whole.

Tomenable
22-05-15, 02:42
One more thing:

This data above when it comes to Poland refers only to three provinces - Greater Poland, Lesser Poland and Mazovia. So it is neither about Poland within modern borders, nor about entire Poland within 14th century borders - but to "the core" of the kingdom.

Tomenable
22-05-15, 02:57
Also, were peasants at that time in Poland still mandated to stay in their villages, so very little travel?

No. They were not yet mandated to stay in their villages. That law was introduced during the 1600s.


Unless perhaps they were still less isolated from trade than Poland because they were on the sea routes?

Poland wasn't isolated from trade. E.g. major southeast-northwest transit trade was going on through Polish territory.

Many places that were apparently hit much harder by the Plague were much more isolated from trade.


Milano, even if inland, and so affected later, was hardly isolated or rural by the standards of the time, and its rate, if the quotes are correct, was even lower than in Poland...15% In both Milano and areas in Poland and other scattered places they apparently walled themselves off from the sick in a more Draconian manner than in other places. Some Florentine aristocrats and wealthy merchants did the same in Florence if Boccaccio is to be believed.

Yes, it has been suggested that King Casimir the Great prevented the Plague from hitting hard by closing the borders.

But there is not much of hard evidence for this, IIRC.

Tomenable
22-05-15, 03:13
I wonder though if Polish quarter estimate is about Modern Poland territory (read Prussians!) or the grey area in picture.
Prussians I think had high death rates.

Teutonic Order's Realm in Prussia was also - like Poland & Milan - relatively lightly affected by the Black Death plague in year 1349.

Later in 1373, 1382, 1416, 1427 and 1439 other plagues took place, but they mostly affected cities (while ethnic Prussians lived mostly in villages). So the Black Death didn't have a major impact on reducing the % of Prussians among the population of Prussia.

And the impact of those later plagues on cities wasn't really that deadly, compared to what Western Europe had suffered.

In 1404 there took place a census of Prussian farmsteads in lands of the Order (but apart from lands of the Order there were also lands owned by bishops and lands owned by private owners in the Teutonic Order's Realm - so the census was not complete).

Based on that census ethnic Prussians can be estimated as ca. 55-60% of the population of original Prussia in 1404. The rest were mostly Germans plus some Poles and others. Of course the Teutonic Order's Realm was already larger than ethnic Prussia at that time, as since 1309 it included Pomerelia (which was later labelled West Prussia, but that was ethnically Slavic land - Balts didn't live there).

In 1404 ethnic structure of Prussia (original one - so areas which were later known as East Prussia) was such, that cities were mostly German-inhabited, while the countryside was mostly Prussian - but in westernmost parts of the country (just to the east of the Vistula River) ratio of Prussians to Germans in villages was like 3 to 5, in northern part of Ermland bishopric Prussians were roughly 50% of villagers, in southern part of Ermland bishopric (the area which was later Polonized) they were 75%, in Natangia 90% and in Sambia 100%.

So the % of Prussians in the countryside was a west-east continuum - from some 35-40% in western regions, to 100% in Sambia.

Unsurprisingly, Sambia was the area where Prussian language survived for the longest time (until early 1700s).

All in all, if we also add Prussians living in towns and cities, they were some 50%-60% of the population of [East] Prussia in 1404.

And that was mostly the result of losses during the 1200s and high immigration of foreigners, rather than the Black Death.

Prussians also had the lowest status of all ethnic groups in Prussia - lower than German and Polish settlers. About 2/3 of Prussians were unfree serfs, the remaining half were mostly peasants - there existed also quite numerous Prussian nobility (even though Prussian nobles suffered especially high losses during the crusade of the 1200s), but they were the ones most likely to adopt German culture and identity, so that Prussian masses were deprived of native high culture and reduced to living under German domination.

All Prussian clans who broke the Treaty of Sirgune of 1249, were reduced to serfdom after the conquest (1283). That applied also to nobles, punished for opposing the Knights. While traitors who collaborated with the Order against other Prussians, were rewarded.

The assimilation of the lowest social stratum of Old Prussians into foreign cultures took place only after the Teutonic Order collapsed, and the Lutheran Duchy of Prussia emerged. The Teutonic Knights even had such a saying: "let the Prussians remain Prussians", but don't get deluded - the Knights weren't into multi-kulti, that saying was about low legal and social status, not about culture.

Systematic discrimination of Prussians and "Prusianness" by the Knights led to assimilation of higher strata of the Prussian society. Prussian language became gradually limited just to serfs (2/3 of all Prussians). Ironically - the end of that discrimination (which took place after Prussia transformed into a secular Lutheran Duchy) - led to assimilation of those serfs as well. Immigration of at first Germans (13th - 14th c.) and then Poles and Lithuanians (15th - 16th c.) also contributed to the melting of Prussians into other ethnicities.

For example the Prussian tribe of the Warmians - which consisted of "clan districts" Wewa, Plut, Medenowe, Wuntenowe, Lanzania and Drusen - adopted mostly Polish ethnicity (language and culture), rather than German. They also remained Catholic after the Reformation, because Warmia was incorporated to Poland in 1466 and was also administered by bishops. By contrast Ducal Prussia became a secular and Lutheran country.

Another factor which contributed to assimilation of Prussians was migration of peasants from villages to towns. Towns in East Prussia were established by the Teutonic Order and were initially mostly inhabited by Germans. But over time (after year 1400) the influx of German settlers became small, while more of Prussians and other ethnic groups began to migrate to towns in East Prussia. That was not a sudden occurence but a gradual process, so Prussians who came to towns were adopting German language rather than imposing their Baltic language on the locals.

==============================

Ethnic Prussians were up to 60% in Prussia in 1404, which is not bad, considering that they had been conquered and colonized.

Today ethnic Swedes are probably just 70% of the population in Sweden, even though nobody has conquered and colonized them.

arvistro
22-05-15, 07:55
Henryk Samsonowicz in his book "Golden Autumn of Polish Middle Ages" (in Polish), gives data on relative population density - if in ca. 1300-1340 we describe population density of each country as "100", then this is how things changed in the next two centuries:



Years
England
France
Norway
Germany
Poland


ca. 1300-1340
100
100
100
100
100


ca. 1400-1450
70
72
66
80
166


ca. 1500-1580
90
110
76
123
248



So the idea that Poland was - at least relatively (compared to others) - unaffected by the Black Death, seems to be quite true.

But I don't think that it had something to do with genetic immunity to the disease.

And - even if that was the case - then that would have been immunity of Poles specifically, not of Slavs as a whole.
Is not that greyed out area at least partially the perceived homeland of all Slavs?
I am not sure if this theory has any meaning :) Just enjoying discussion. But if similar population dynamics happened during Justinian it could at least partially explain the underlying reason for Slavic expansion. Either they got killed less by plague or recovered much faster.
Alternatively maybe in the landscape there was something that somehow helped. Herbs or berries that we dont know about.

Tomenable
22-05-15, 10:54
Was the Plague of Justinian (541-49) caused by the same disease(s) as the Black Death (1346-53) ???

Tomenable
22-05-15, 11:38
The distribution of CCR5-Delta32, which could increase immunity against some kinds of epidemic diseases (it also makes you HIV-immune). It seems to correlate best (red colour) with Balts, Baltic Finns and also Slavs (mostly Poles and Russians) and Swedes:

Map showing CCR5-Delta 32 (the high-frequency red-coloured area reaches southern Poland):

http://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/s--zxcMur_z--/c_fit,fl_progressive,q_80,w_636/e9ljg2yabixykwszjujh.png

The Polish-Swedish connection could be through Ajvide-like Hunter-Gatherer autosomal DNA:

http://polishgenes.blogspot.com/2012/04/prehistoric-scandinavians-genetically.html

Modern populations most autosomally resembling Ajvide Hunters are 1) Poles and 2) Swedes:


But why is it that Poles show higher similarity to these Neolithic Scandinavians than Swedes do? Firstly, it's important to realize that the differences aren't that great. Note, for instance, that Swedes are the second most similar population to the hunter-gatherers after Poles.
http://s21.postimg.org/a93dyb8qv/Ajvide_component.png

Ajvide and Ire were Pitted Ware hunter-gatherers from Gotland (ca. 3000 BC - 2000 BC):

http://www.ancestraljourneys.org/mesolithicdna.shtml

RobertColumbia
22-07-15, 03:17
...
Perhaps a more important factor is that in the beginning, in the places along the initial trade routes, they didn't understand how important it was to stay away from the sick. Later on it must have become more obvious. Good leadership verging on the ruthless may have played a role too....

Yes, and hygiene was sorely lacking in some areas. London, for example, was hit brutally due to widespread lack of sanitation and, allegedly, superstitious behavior that blamed cats (which were stereotypically associated with black magic) and resulted in cats being killed. This had the opposite effect as desired, since a healthy cat population would have helped reduce the number of plague-bearing rats.

oriental
23-07-15, 00:23
The Parsees in India don't bury their dead but leave the cadavers in an enclosed walled area without roofs for birds like vultures to feed. Parsees are Iranians who follow the Zoroastian religion. One could sort of assume the Siberians such as Huns and Mongols followed this custom of not burying the dead. After bloody battles with so many dead bodies there would be many vermins such as vultures, rats and others feasting and spreading diseases. The Hun attacks against the Roman Empire could have precipitated the plague as did the Mongols with the Black Death which spread all the way to China. The Mongols ranks were decimated and that is how the Han Dynasty took over from the Yuan (Mongol) Dynasty in China.

Tomenable
23-07-15, 00:34
Most of Early Pagan Slavs practiced cremation - they burned their dead.