The Black Death
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A series of natural disasters in the Orient during the fourteenth century brought about the most devastating period of death and destruction in European history. The epidemic killed one-third of Europe's people over a period of three years, and the resulting social and economic upheaval was on a scale unparalleled in all of recorded history. Synthesizing the records of contemporary chroniclers and the work of later historians, Philip Ziegler offers a critically acclaimed overview of this crucial epoch in a single masterly volume. The Black Death vividly and comprehensively brings to light the full horror of this uniquely catastrophic event that hastened the disintegration of an age.
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Doge, Andrea Dandolo, and the Great Council appointed a panel of three noblemen to consider measures to check the spread of the plague.25 A few days later the panel reported its recommendations. Remote burial places were designated; one at S. Erasmo at what is now the Lido, another on an island called S. Marco Boccacalme which seems since to have vanished into the lagoon.26 A special service of barges was provided to carry corpses to the new graveyards. All the dead, it was ruled, were to be.
Siena without serious challenge for some seventy years. A few years later it seemed successfully to have weathered the storm and to have launched Siena on another era of stable prosperity. Yet in 1354 it fell. It can be argued that this was not a direct consequence of the plague but, equally, it is certain that the Black Death, in Dr Bowsky’s phrase, ‘was instrumental in creating demographic, social and economic conditions that greatly increased opposition to the ruling oligarchy’.32 Without some.
20 April, 1348. 11 Philippe, Histoire de la Peste Noire, p.54. 12 Sudhoff, Archiv, XIX, pp.46–8. 13 Walsingham, R. S., 28, I, p.273; cf. Capgrave, R. S. 1, p.213. (This may not relate to Spain in particular though it could as well apply there.) 14 ‘Chronicon ma jus Aegidii Li Muisis’, De Smet, Vol. 11, p.280. 7 ARRIVAL IN ENGLAND: THE WEST COUNTRY THE England of 1348, politically and economically, was not in so frail a state as some of the countries on the mainland of Europe.
Longer and consumed more gradually than in a small town or village. Deaths were still common till far on into 1350 and, though the full fury of the epidemic lasted only three or four months, almost two years passed between the Black Death’s arrival and the final casualties. In January 1349 shortly before Parliament was due to assemble, the King prorogued it on the grounds that ‘… the plague of deadly pestilence had suddenly broken out in the said place and the neighbourhood, and daily increased.
Hundred thousand people died of the Black Death in London, a figure credulously adopted by Rickman in his Abstract of Population Returns.12 Even if Robert of Avesbury’s figure were accepted the total of the dead could hardly be less than forty thousand. Figures above fifty thousand have frequently been bandied about. Yet all these totals seem unreasonably high when set alongside a population of sixty or seventy thousand. The ecclesiastical registers, which might have provided a more accurate.