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The Black Death first hit Europe in 1347, ripping through towns, villages, and families. Men, women, children, young and old succumbed to a painful, drawn-out death as pustules, abscesses, and boils erupted all over their bodies. Subsequent attacks of the disease, coming almost every decade, so limited the population that it was not until the 18th century that it managed to surpass the levels of the 1340s. For over 300 years, Europeans were stalked by death. In the end, this mysterious disease that had terrorized, terrified, and killed millions, disappeared as inexplicably as it had appeared.