1349 Is Actually The Worst Year In History (Not 536)

Here’s why

Grant Piper
5 min readMar 10, 2022
The flagellants by Pieter van Laer (Public domain)

If you do a quick Google search for the worst year in history you will inevitably turn up dozens of articles saying that 536CE is that year. The problem is everyone is citing one historian who made that claim. One guy made one claim and everyone ran with it. While 536CE was certainly a rotten, awful, no-good, terrible year. It was not the worst year. That designation should go to 1349CE.

536 is given the title of worst year ever due to famine, plague, and volcanic eruptions. 1349 also has famine and plague, as well as earthquakes and a healthy dose of superstition and religious zealotry.

If one (admittedly very qualified) man can make a claim about the worst year in history, so can I.

Here are all of the reasons why 1349 should be considered the worst year in history and not 536.

The Black Death

(Public domain)

In 1349, the Black Death was arguably at its peak. It had made its way from the shores of Italy deep into the heart of Great Britain. Millions had already died and millions more were living in fear of the disease.

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Grant Piper

Professional writer. Amateur historian. Husband, father, Christian.