The Plague was without a doubt the greatest threat to global civilization in the history of Vexillium. The Plague effectively destroyed the concept of nationhood, and caused a complete breakdown of social and political structure. Recovery from the Plague took years, and even decades later, the signs of its destructive effects were still evident.
The beginning (97 BP)
The year 97 BP is considered when the Plague originally began on the island of Ptica, in the Demisec Islands. The first sightings of it are from around 20 BP. Gradually it spread, first to Eras (also known as the Old Continent) and then to Longerath. It was carried by fleas, which in turn were carried by rats. The Plague spread slowly at first, but accelerated. Few places were safe from infection. The nature of the Plague was such that its effects were not noticeable until too late, and so by the time people noticed that one of their number had contracted the disease, they were all infected already. Even those who had the disease might be unaware of it for a time.
New World origin theory
Epidemiologists from several universities around Vexillium, working with historians, have reviewed the historical record and have proposed the New World's being unaffected by the plague hints at a slightly different origin story. Evidence is slowly building to support the claim that the new world was the origin of the plague, that centuries of isolation from the old world had allowed the population there to develop relative immunity to the plague and that as shipbuilding in the old world allowed the new world to be opened-up", colonised and traded with, the diseased-flea bearing rats emigrated to Ptica which was a major port en route to the new world (a role later taken on by the Guwimithian city of Ploche ). Once the plague had begun ravaging the Ptican population, it thereafter spread to Utania, Armatirion and Altland and to all ports thereafter, leading to the widespread belief that plague originated in Ptica.
This theory was the basis of the plague backstory in the film and television series Ar7ane, produced in Utania and released to a worldwide audience. The series' fourth television episode explains that the plague is deliberately imported to the films' unnamed Futuronian kingdom from the Kingdom's new world colony by the kingdom's Lord Protector who uses it to usurp the throne.
Isolation excludes the Plague
Only by complete exclusion of all outsiders could a community hope to remain isolated, even if it meant turning away those seeking refuge from the disease. One such place was the island of Vaere, in Achenar, which cut itself off completly from the outside world as soon as it heard of the Plague in Angliyaa, and then made absolutely certain that nobody from the mainland reached the island. Several other communities attempted similar measures, but without the benefit of physical isolation, such as Vaere had due to its island status, it was highly difficult to exclude the Plague.
The Cruisanan Navy was founded and heavily beefed up to keep ships with the plague from Cruisanan shores. Cruisana was generally spared suffering from the Plague because of this action by the then-queen Elizabeth Ann I.
The Plague peaked around 12 BP, when early Cruisanan proto-scientists found the cause to be infected rats, spread by trading ships. Rat extermination and better hygiene practices finally led to the rapid drop in plague cases.
It was eventually, and embarrassingly, discovered later that the Plague never had threatened the people of Fiarria or Nova Vexillum. The plague did not nearly have the effect on the new continents as it did the old. It may have been popping up here and there, but thanks to the oceans it wasn't the history-changing event it was in the old world. The fact that it never afflicted the new world suggests that there was no trade with the new world at that time. More likely, the new world had some other defence against it. Perhaps less developed and thus less disease-assisting living conditions, perhaps a natural resistance or one from their diets, perhaps cats or men eating the rats on ship when the reserves are gone. Everyone susceptible to plague dying before arrival, thus the disease burned out on board before arrival to the new continents.
Preserving the knowledge
By 3 BP, governmental and scientific leaders were beginning to realise just how terrible the Plague could become. In several locations, scientists began constructing libraries of information, records, and anything else that might survive and allow the reconstruction of civilization. The most famous one of these was the Refúgio, or the Refuge, built in the mountains of Lendia by the Confederation of the Western Isles. It was through this that Lendosa maintained the technology and knowledge which it did. Other similar facilities were established elsewhere in a last-ditch attempt to preserve the world's knowledge.
In actuality, these caches of knowledge were for a worst-case scenario, and were probably not needed. Enough survived to make them unneccessary, although they did speed up the recovery completly. Some had feared that nothing whatsoever would remain of the old world, but this was not so. While a huge amount of restoration was required, it was a matter of rebuilding what had been before, not of recreating, as some had feared.
The end - the new beginning (1 AP)
Padraig VII, an early King of the current Cruisanan dynasty, proclaimed the Plague over and started the years at 1 AP. This was really an economic decision that allowed Cruisanan ships to one again trade with other countries.
The Plague found expression also in literature and poetry. The following, famous poem from Neoliliana may serve as an example.
The Lighthouse Keeper
Anonymous, c. 3 AP [TECH: (C) David Harper, 2000]
Listen to the text. [TECH: spoken by the author]
No ships come to Solace anymore.
No long sloops grace our docks today
Their white sails flash somewhere else
No gay children pointing to their wares
Laughing and begging father for more
No children anywhere anymore
God has cursed our vain pride
And cast down the azure
Never again to fly
But in the black breaking
Prince and thief die alike
Side by side they lay
Buried in unmarked graves
Yet still I know as long as one man stands
True blood Lelane; this nation fair will hold!
And every ship come sailing in
Be met; and warmed with brotherhood
Though pirates sunk and raiders spurned
Our banner shall not fall so long as hands can grasp
No ships come to Solace anymore.