Bubonic plague infection causes tiny blood vessels in the hands and fingers to clog up and cut off circulation. Without blood, the flesh dies and turns black (called "gangrene"). This is why in the Middle Ages bubonic plague was called "the Black Death." In the 14th century it killed an estimated 25 million people, or 30–60% of the European population.
10 things you (probably) didn’t know about the Black Death - It is one of the worst catastrophes in recorded history – a deadly plague that ravaged communities across Europe, changing forever their social and economic fabric. But how much do you know about the Black Death? | History Extra