It was October 1347 when twelve ships pulled into the Sicilian port of Messina. From the outside, everything seemed normal enough, but horror struck the people when they saw the sailors on board. Most of them were dead, the rest barely clinging to life. Black boils oozing with blood and puss covered their bodies and they writhed and groaned in agony. The people in Messina had heard rumors of this hideous black death, and here it was in all its horror on the cusp of their shores.
Immediately the ships were turned out to sea but it was too late. Death had been unleashed. The people of Sicily were soon infected. In no time the sickness struck Marseilles, Tunis, and Rome.
It reached Florence, Bordeaux, Paris, and London. The disease spared no one. Young, old, rich, poor, all were susceptible. Over the course of five years, the black death would kill more than 20 million people, leaving whole towns decimated in its wake. In the end, one-third of Europe's population was dead.