Most countries settled by Europeans have the figure we know as the Grim Reaper ingrained into their culture. The Grim Reaper, also known as the personification of death has its origins in the early Middle Ages. As a matter of fact, one can trace it all the way back to the days of the Black Death – the Bubonic Plague pandemic that killed roughly half the European population.
This blog post could easily end right here, of course the personification of death was a prevalent theme of the 1300s, everyone was dying. But then the importance of the Grim Reaper to history would be left out.
The first known appearance of the black clad figure holding a scythe comes from Germany. It was reported that a tall gaunt figure dressed in a black monk’s robe and hood was standing in a field swinging a scythe above a field of crops and everyone that ate the crops from that field developed the Black Death.
Which is interesting, because epidemiological research has proven the normal carrier method of Bubonic Plague would not have spread it so far and wide. Somehow, the Black Death became communicable person to person via the air, which is not how it normally spreads. In other words, it spread like a cold or influenza. This is why it is considered a highly virulent and communicable form of bubonic plague, a mutation that made it more deadly and that did not require a zoological host such as a rat or rather a flea from a rat to transmit it.
The idea that these black clad figures were the cause of the Black Death traveled out from Germany to the rest of the continent as the plague spread. It became such a mainstream idea that the Grim Reaper continues as part of the collective conscious seven hundred years later.
I’ve heard an Ancient Alien theory that suggests the Grim Reaper was actually an alien race spreading plague on Earth to control the population explosion that was happening in the 1200s and 1300s. I’ve also heard the theory that the Grim Reaper was the antithesis of the Mothman. Theoretically, Mothman comes to warn of potential mass deaths, while the Grim Reaper comes to cause them.