Outbreaks in Poznań

A guide to Poznań in the time of the plague. The earliest information about the plague in Poland dates back to the times of Bolesław I the Brave. They took place in 1003 and in 1006-1007. According to Jan Długosz’s chronicle, there was a “plague air” in Poland at that time. At that time, Poznań was one of the largest towns and an important trade centre. Presumably, he was affected by this epidemic.

Another plague ravaged Poznań in 1174. At that time, people did not yet have the knowledge and ability to diagnose what bacteria or virus it was caused by. We can only assume that it could have been plague, cholera, typhus or smallpox. Since then, recurrent epidemics of various diseases have appeared in Wielkopolska every dozen or so years. The next reference refers to the years 1205-1207.

The problem was the poor sanitary condition in the cities and the concentration of the population in a small area. As a result of the lack of medical knowledge, medics counteracted the epidemic in the dark. On many occasions, improper treatments have led to further deterioration of the situation. They entailed many casualties and often caused a significant decrease in the city’s population.

The most devastating was the plague epidemic of 1347-1349, which led to the death of a third of the population in Europe. In 1514, an epidemic in Poznań claimed the lives of 10,000 people, i.e. 50% of the population. Epidemics in Poznań: the year 1542 brought about 5 thousand victims. Also in 1599, about 5,000 inhabitants died (at that time it constituted 33% of the population of Poznań).

The epidemic was facilitated by warfare. This was also the case during the Northern War. Between 1708 and 1709 the so-called “Great Plague” took place. It was a cholera epidemic that caused the death of about 9,000 people. It is assumed that it was as much as 75% of the population of Poznań, which is proportionally the highest in our history. However, the number of deaths seems to have been inflated at the time due to expected tax breaks. This does not change the fact that the plague was catastrophic for the city and affected its history. After the Northern War and cholera epidemics, new settlers – the Bambers – began to be checked in Poznań.

Later plagues were not so fraught with consequences. Epidemics of diarrhoea (1732), cholera (1831) and typhus (1866) were recorded. The last recurrences of infectious diseases appeared in Poznań in the years 1880-1890. They were caused by the poor condition of the intake in the Warta River. The improvement of the sanitary situation in Poznań was facilitated by the expansion of the sewage system and the construction of a water intake in Dębin in 1902.

We wish you good health and invite you to explore Poznań along the trail of epidemics, fires and floods. Of course, as soon as the epidemiological situation allows. We offer safe individual sightseeing tours of Poznań with photos and video shots shot with a drone – link.