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Abstract

Historical sources documenting recurrent plagues of the “Second Pandemic” usually focus on urban epidemic mortality. Instead, plague persists in remote, rural hinterlands: areas less visible in the written sources of late medieval Europe. Plague spreads as fleas move from relatively resistant rodents, which serve as “maintenance hosts,” to an array of more susceptible rural mammals, now called “amplifying hosts.” Using sources relevant to plague in thinly populated Central and Western Alpine regions, this paper postulates that Alpine Europe could have been a region of plague persistence via its population of wild rodents, particularly the Alpine marmot.