The Black Death 1346-1353: The Complete History

The Black Death 1346-1353: The Complete History

Ole J. Benedictow


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Boydell Press



New research, drawing on records from across Europe, throws light on the nature of the disease, its origin, spread, mortality, and its impact on history.
The Black Death was a disaster of such magnitude that it not only shook the Old World to its economic and social foundations, but changed the course of human history. Yet this book is the first comprehensive history and assessment of its progress, and of the death and devastation it left in its wake, in all the countries through which it passed.
The many local studies on the Black Death published in a variety of languages and scholarly papers have for the first time been systematically collected and thoroughly analysed. The medical and epidemiological characteristics of the disease, its geographical origin, its spread across Asia Minor, the Middle East, North Africa and Europe, and the mortality in the countries and regions for which there are satisfactory studies, are clearly presented and thoroughly discussed. The pattern, pace and seasonality of spread revealed through close scrutiny of these studies exactly reflect current medical work and standard studies on the epidemiology of bubonic plague.
Benedictow's findings relating to the mortality caused by the Black Death are based on the meticulous study and synthesis of all available demographic studies. Published over the past forty years, most of them in widely dispersed local journals and local histories, this cumulative evidence, far-reaching in its implications, has gone largely unnoticed. This book makes it clear that the true mortality rate was far higher than has been previously thought. In the light of these findings, the discussion in the last part of the book showing the Black Death as a turning point in history takes on a new significance.


1 colour, 2 black and white, 11 line illustrations
454 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Hardback, 9780851159430, October 2004
Paperback, 9781843832140, February 2006
Boydell Press
BIC HBJD1, 1D, 2AB, 3H, 4P
BISAC HIS037010, MED039000
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(This) magisterial account mixes demographic research, meticulous reading of the chronicles and modern bacteriology. THE GUARDIAN
The author...has achieved a Herculean task in reviewing a very large part of the literature on the pestilential disease or set of diseases that afflicted Europe from 1346 to 1353. THE MEDIEVAL REVIEW
A valuable addition to the historiography of the Black Death. Highly recommended. CHOICE
Ambitious and contentious. ENGLISH HISTORICAL REVIEW