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February 26, 2021

Professor Mark Bailey publishes new book

The Black Death of 1348-9 is the most catastrophic event and worst pandemic in recorded history. Mark Bailey’s (High Master 2011-20) After the Black Death offers a major reinterpretation of its immediate impact and longer-term consequences in England.

After the Black Death studies how the government reacted to the crisis, and how communities adapted in its wake. It places the pandemic within the wider context of extreme weather and epidemiological events, the institutional framework of markets and serfdom, and the role of law in reducing risks and conditioning behaviour, drawing upon recent research into climate and disease and manorial and government sources. The government’s response to the Black Death is reconsidered in order to cast new light on the Little Divergence (whereby economic performance in north western Europe began to move decisively ahead of the rest of the continent) and the Peasant’s Revolt of 1381.

By 1400, the effect of plague had worked through the economy and society, having wide-ranging implications. After the Black Death rescues the end of the fourteenth century from a little-understood paradox between plague and revolt, and elevates it to a critical period of profound and irreversible change in English and global history.

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