1348 - 1349 THE BLACK PLAGUE (Europe)
One third of Europe's population died from the Black Death (Bubonic plague). Though many Jews were among the dead, they were accused by local church leaders and tortured to confess that they had poisoned the wells (Chillon) in order to kill Christians. During the next few years - despite the protests of Pope Clement VI - over 60 large and 150 small Jewish communities were destroyed as a direct result of these accusations. These included untold atrocities in cities such as Basel, Cologne, Strasbourg, Worms, Zurich and others. The plague, which originated in China, was spread for the most part by rats which came aboard ships from Asia to European ports. It is estimated that 25 million people perished within three years.