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From 1348 to 1350 Europe was devastated by an epidemic that left between a third and one half of the population dead. This book traces, through contemporary writings, the calamitous impact of the Black Death in Europe, with a particular emphasis on its spread across England from 1348 to 1349. It charts the social and psychological impact of the plague, and its effect on the late-medieval economy. Focusing on England, an exceptionally well documented region, the book then offers a wide range of evidence for the plague's variegated repercussions on the economy and, no less complex, on social and religious conduct. It is concerned with the British experience of plague in the fourteenth century. Students of intellectual history will find a wealth of pseudo-scientific explanations of the plague ranging from astrological conjunctions, through earthquakes releasing toxic vapours, to well poisoning by Jews. From narrative accounts, often of heartrending immediacy, the book further proceeds to a variety of contemporary responses, drawn from many parts of Christian Europe. It then explains contemporary claims that the plague had been caused by human agency. The book attempts to explain the plague, which was universally regarded as an expression of divine vengeance for the sins of humankind.

Samuel K. Cohn, Jr

The social movements and rebellions over the hundred-year period preceding the Black Death show great diversity but few discernible trends. The earliest of these protests were as ‘modern’ as any on record in the West until the nineteenth century. In northern France and Flanders, abundant evidence of workingmen’s associations, assemblies, and strikes appears in city

in Popular protest in late-medieval Europe
Samuel K. Cohn, Jr

Revolts involving or spearheaded by commoners in Rome, Siena, and Florence were on the rise in the years immediately preceding the Black Death of 1348. But the catastrophe of 1348 put a temporary end to these developments. Until the toppling of Siena’s government of the Nine in 1355 [71, 72] , social and political protests with concrete aims are difficult to find. In the

in Popular protest in late-medieval Europe
Carole Rawcliffe

Many current assumptions about health provision in medieval English cities derive not from the surviving archival or archaeological evidence but from the pronouncements of Victorian sanitary reformers whose belief in scientific progress made them dismissive of earlier attempts to ameliorate the quality of urban life. Our own tendency to judge historical responses to disease by the exacting standards of modern biomedicine reflects the same anachronistic attitude, while a widespread conviction that England lagged centuries behind Italy in matters of health and hygiene seems to reinforce presumptions of ‘backwardness’ and ‘ignorance’. By contrast, this paper argues that a systematic exploration of primary source material reveals a very different approach to collective health, marked by direct intervention on the part of the crown and central government and the active involvement of urban communities, especially after the Black Death of 1348-49. A plethora of regulations for the elimination of recognized hazards was then accompanied by major schemes for environmental improvement, such as the introduction of piped water systems and arrangements for refuse collection.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
What Lessons Can Be Drawn from Case Studies in France, the United States and Madagascar?
Hugo Carnell

Introduction Plague is a disease which most lay observers would associate with history, rather than modern public health. Looming particularly large in any general understanding are the estimated 75–200 million people that were killed in Europe, Asia and North Africa during the Black Death of the fourteenth century. However, plague outbreaks occurred continuously across Europe until the end of the seventeenth century, and the most recent plague

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Debating the medieval English peasantry

The study of the medieval English peasantry began in the nineteenth century as an adjunct to the study of other themes. Medievalists have tended to assume that modern working definitions of peasant, as proposed by Thorner et al., are sufficiently accommodating as to make room for a medieval English peasantry and conceive of a peasant society operating in medieval England. The book describes the ways in which historians have discussed change within the village community, notably in the pre- and post-Black Death village communities. It examines the ways in which debates or particular avenues of research have emerged from three main strands of research: population movement and its determining; the demands and constraints of the seigneurial economy and of resistance to the same; and the development of commerce and the market. The book analyzes the peasant family and household in demographic terms and by looking at household formation, age at marriage and the size and structure of the peasant household, as well as the evolution of the peasant household in the high and late middle ages. It suggests that the study of the medieval peasantry is not a plaything of historical fashion, subject only to the whims and musings of historians the views of whom are rooted only in the present; it reflects a nuancing and refining of questions that will lead to a fuller understanding of a topic and period of great and enduring interest.

Italy, France, and Flanders

This book is comprised of over 200 translated sources related to popular protest in Italy, France and Flanders from 1245 to 1424 . In particular, it focuses on the ‘contagion of rebellion' from 1355 to 1382 that followed in the wake of the plague. They comprise a diversity of sources and cover a variety of forms of popular protest in different social, political and economic settings. Their authors range across a wide political and intellectual horizon and include revolutionaries, the artistocracy, merchants and representatives from the church. They tell gripping and often gruesome stories of personal and collective violence, anguish, anger, terror, bravery, and foolishness. The book documents the best-known revolt in France before the French Revolution, the Jacquerie. The book also focuses on the best known of the urban revolts of the fourteenth century, the Revolt of the Ciompi, which set off with a constitutional conflict in June 1378. It then views the 'cluster of revolts' of northern France and Flanders, 1378 to 1382, concentrating on the most important of these, the tax revolts of the Harelle in Rouen and the Maillotins or hammer men in Paris. It looks beyond the 'cluster' to the early fifteenth century.

Resistance, respectability and Black deaths in police custody
Adam Elliott-Cooper

as a respectable young man from a respectable family; it also showed a human side to a young Black man whose life was devalued by racism. Another lasting gift of the Stephen Lawrence Campaign is how it has shaped resistance to racial violence. Almost every campaign calling for justice following a Black death at the hands of police in Britain is led by a woman. Doreen Lawrence was by no means the first mother, sister or partner to lead a campaign following the racist murder of a loved one. But what is made clear in the interviews with women engaged in similar

in Black resistance to British policing
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William G. Naphy

There are few aspects of world history between the Roman Empire and the French Revolution that one can assume most people will know Inevitably, the Black Death probably heads the list. Almost every single person will, at least, have heard about this great epidemic that ravaged Europe in the mid-fourteenth century. Indeed, many will know that the Great Plague of London in the mid-seventeenth century was the same disease. However, few will be aware that this disease struck most urban communities on a regular basis in the intervening three centuries. For the first

in Plagues, poisons and potions
Jane Humphries

-poor, work-rich households of the twenty-first century. This chapter puts the ideas to work to explore another historical era which has been interpreted as emblematic both of the absolute autonomy of the family system and of its functionalist collapse into merely servicing the needs of the economy. The era is that of the demographic decimation caused by the Black Death. The elimination of up to 40 per cent of the labour force was a massive shock from which the economy took centuries to recover, not least because the plague made regular return visits, culling survivors of

in Making work more equal