|Plague and the Black Death in Mallorca
Chroniclers mention an outbreak of plague
with the Conquest of Mallorca, possibly a result of the slaughter inflicted on the inhabitants after the Palma seige was
broken, but there is no further mention until the most deadly one of all, the Black Death, spread
across Europe in 1348.
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Mallorca, an island on a busy trade route,
was one of the first places in Spain to be affected by the Black Death. In April, Pedro IV rather optimistically instructed
the Island government to take steps to prevent further spread of the disease. There was little that could be done,
however, and one writer puts the number of deaths at fifteen thousand in a single month. Another chronicler
suggested that the total loss was almost 80% of the population. By 3rd May, the Mallorcan government was complaining
that the Island was so weakened by disease that it was unable to defend itself against attacks by pirates and the Bey of
Tunis. Pedro IV promised to send some galleys but insisted that Mallorca should pay half the cost! This was to be the
beginning of 150 years of intermittent outbreaks which would devastate and weaken the Island population. In 1343,
Mallorca had a population of 11,283 and by 1349 it was 9,164. 19% of the population died, unequally distributed
through the Island, with 10.25% in the urban area and 23.7% in the country. Bunyola lost 70% of its population,
Santa Maria del Camķ 46%, Calvią 43%. In Palma, Santa Euląlia was one of the areas most badly affected, losing some
17-22% of its inhabitants.
The Government of Mallorca was instructed
to send troops to defend the even more depopulated Minorca against enemy attack.
This plague affected children most of all.
A milder variant.
An edict was published forbiding the disembarkation
of travellers and merchandise from areas with plague.
Pesta d'en Boga - Boga was the name of a sailor
thought to be the carrier of the disease.
Saint Sebastian proclaimed patron saint
of Palma following the miraculous end to the 1523-1524 plague on the arrival from Rhodes of an arm bone of the saint.
An epidemic spread from Valencia (1648) Catalonia
(1649-53) via Sóller spreading to Palma . Of the 90,000-100,000 inhabitants, some 14-1500 died of which 9,000 were in Palma.
Inca and Sóller were badly affected as was Alarņ, Petra, Selva and Sineu, where there were more than one hundred deaths.
Like the rest of Europe, plague practically
disappeared in Mallorca during the last half of the XVIIIth century although isolated outbreaks continued into the second
half of the XIXth century. However, Bubonic plague attacked Artą, Capdepera and Son Servera leaving 1,267 dead in Artą and 1,040 dead in Son Servera.