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The Black Death in London

The Black Death in London [Kindle Edition]

Barney Sloane
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

The Black Death of 1348-49 may have killed more than 50% of the European population. This book examines the impact of this appalling disaster on England's most populous city, London. Using previously untapped documentary sources alongside archaeological evidence, a remarkably detailed picture emerges of the arrival, duration and public response to this epidemic and subsequent fourteenth-century outbreaks. Wills and civic and royal administration documents provide clear evidence of the speed and severity of the plague, of how their victims, many named, made preparations for their heirs and familes, and of the immediate social changes that the aftermath brought. The traditional story of the timing and arrival of the plague is challenged and the mortality rate is revised up to 50-60% in the first outbreak, with a population decline of 40-45% across Edward III's reign. Overall, The Black Death in London provides as detailed a story as it is possible to tell of the impact of the plague on a major medieval English city.

About the Author

Barney Sloane was a field archaeologist for the Museum of London and is now in charge of research grants at English Heritage. He is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Reading and a member of the councils of the British Archaeological Associatin and the London & Middlesex Archaeological Society.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1145 KB
  • Print Length: 224 pages
  • Publisher: The History Press (1 May 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #245,053 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New research presented as a readable narrative 4 Oct 2011
By Diana
This is the latest contribution to extensive academic research on the Black Death and is already being cited as valuable evidence by scholars. For the non-academic it's a fascinating and extremely readable insight into the way in which archaeology, public records and careful cross-referencing can be brought together in a coherent narrative. The author makes scholarship accessible without being heavy-handed, showing the way in which even in a crisis civic structures held together, people continued to engage in commercial and legal activities and attended to public health and religion. This is an antedote for those fed up with history re-enacted TV-fashion with close-ups of swelling bodies, swelching streets and the persistent scratch of rats. Researched, rational, reasonably argued - and all the more chilling in consequence.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very interesting read 22 May 2013
By ruth
It's hard to believe that so little has been written about London's experience of the greatest catastrophe in its history. Mr Sloane has thankfully put this right in his beautifully written and impeccably researched book. I bought this wondering if it would be a little dry as it comes from the standpoint of an academic and an archaeologist, but no need to worry as it has a good style and is very readable. There is a considerable amount of information to back up his conclusions, and i like that. It means i don't need to cross reference other books to see if it's a balanced argument. I would imagine if you are studying the period this would be a brilliant reference. I wish i had had teachers like this at school. He doesn't seem to have written other books (apart from archaeological reports) but he probably should.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By I Read, Therefore I Blog VINE VOICE
The Black Death struck Europe between 1348 and 1349 but it remains uncertain as to just how many died, when it started and ended and even what the plague really was and how it was transmitted. In this book, Barney Sloane focuses on the effects of the Black Death on London by examining a combination of legal documents from the time (including wills and correspondence) and archaeological evidence from digs within the city.

Sloane does well at setting the scene for the beginnings of the Black Death, tracking how the news of its progress in Europe was greeted by the London authorities and the preparations that they made as a result. He looks at the registration of wills by the better off classes as a way of tracking how virulent the Black Death was and how fearful the local population was of its effects, extrapolating from the numbers to produce a rough figure for the rest of the London population. As a lawyer, I found the examination of the wills to be fascinating, particularly because of the insights they gave on how the trades banded together, with Guilds trying to support the families of the men taken and because the speed between wills being lodged and the probate claims made under them. That said, however, it does make for dense reading and there are a lot of different names being mentioned - some of which come up in later discussions of donations and uses of land, contributions to churches etc - which sometimes made it difficult to keep track.

Also interesting are the sections where Sloane looks at the results of archaeological digs - particularly bone analysis and a look at the way bodies were buried as a way of ascertaining how the city was coping. I really enjoyed the descriptions of items found with bodies, including charms and bits of clothing.
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