Problems in World History
Guiding Questions
Class Calendar
Back to Plague Index

Presentation Index

Ibn Khaldun Describes the Impact of the Plague

Guide to Reading

What story does this document tell?
What did you learn about the time period from this document?
How does this compare to other documents you've been studying?
How does it corroborate other information and sources?
Questions or Comments
Generate questions for your classmates to consider for discussion.
  • Context
  • Vocabulary
  • Internal consistency
  • Corroboration
  • Comparison to other sources
  • Attribution
Send your comments to Plague Discussion

The great Muslim historian, Ibn Khaldun lost both of his parents to the Great Death. He describes the effect of the plague in this excerpt:

Civilization both in the East and the West was visited by a destructive plague which devastated nations and caused populations to vanish. It swallowed up many of the good things of civilization and wiped them out. It overtook the dynasties at the time of their senility, when they had reached the limit of their duration. It lessened their power and curtailed their influence. It weakened their authority. Their situation approached the point of annihilation and dissolution. Civilization decreased with the decrease of mankind. Cities and buildings were laid waste, roads and way signs were obliterated, settlements and mansions became empty, and dynasties and tribes grew weak. The entire inhabited world changed. The East, it seems, was similarly visited, though in accordance with and in proportion to [the East's more affluent] civilization.

Source: Robert Gottfried. The Black Death. New York: Free Press, 1983:41

Contact: Bob Bain