IN THE WAKE OF THE PLAGUE is a social history, not just of collapse but of rebirth. It is a fascinating investigation into how the Plague rocked the sociological, commercial, cultural and religious foundations of medieval civilisation. Arguably the greatest biomedical disaster in history - the Black Death wiped out 40% of the European population - ...
IN THE WAKE OF THE PLAGUE is a social history, not just of collapse but of rebirth. It is a fascinating investigation into how the Plague rocked the sociological, commercial, cultural and religious foundations of medieval civilisation. Arguably the greatest biomedical disaster in history - the Black Death wiped out 40% of the European population - the results are not confined to figures of mass fatality. They are diverse and long standing, extending to the present day: with the population depleted, the peasants could claim land for themselves, creating Europe's first class of independent farmers, hastening the modern capitalist era; the Catholic Church, powerless in the face of such disaster, watched as the faith healers became influential; efforts to block windows and doors against supposed airborne germs with woven tapestries generated a whole textile industry. Cantor presents an eclectic mix of individuals directly affected by the plague, some are well known today - Robin Hood, Richard the Lionheart, Edward the Black Prince - others have been forgotten by history books but have valuable stories to tell. Underlying this vivid recreation of a grave chapter of history is an interrogation of the medical facts. How closely linked are the Plague and the infamous 1918 flu epidemic? Is it something closer to today's medical phobia, Mad Cow disease? Cantor undermines the confidence we have in our world, doused in disinfectant and dosed with antibiotics, challenging us: can we be sure the Black Death is extinct - or is it just dormant?
New. Tight binding with clean text. new. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. With dust jacket. 256 p. Contains: Illustrations. Audience: General/trade. Much of what we know about the greatest medical disaster ever, the Black Plague of the fourteenth century, is wrong. The details of the Plague etched in the minds of terrified schoolchildren--the hideous black welts, the high fever, and the final, awful end by respiratory failure--are more or less accurate. But what the Plague really was, and how it made history, remain shrouded in a haze of myths. Norman Cantor, the premier historian of the Middle Ages, draws together the most recent scientific discoveries and groundbreaking historical research to pierce the mist and tell the story of the Black Death afresh, as a gripping, intimate narrative. "In the Wake of the Plague" presents a microcosmic view of the Plague in England (and on the continent), telling the stories of the men and women of the fourteenth century, from peasant to priest, and from merchant to king. Cantor introduces a fascinating cast of characters. We meet, among others, fifteen-year-old Princess Joan of England, on her way to Spain to marry a Castilian prince; Thomas of Birmingham, abbot of Halesowen, responsible for his abbey as a CEO is for his business in a desperate time; and the once-prominent landowner John le Strange, who sees the Black Death tear away his family's lands and then its very name as it washes, unchecked, over Europe in wave after wave. Cantor argues that despite the devastation that made the Plague so terrifying, the disease that killed more than 40 percent of Europe's population had some beneficial results. The often literal demise of the old order meant that new, more scientific thinking increasingly prevailed where church dogma had once reigned supreme. In effect, the Black Death heralded an intellectual revolution. There was also an explosion of art: tapestries became popular as window protection against the supposedly airborne virus, and a great number of painters responded to the Plague. Finally, the Black Death marked an economic sea change: the onset of what Cantor refers to as turbo capitalism; the peasants who survived the Plague thrived, creating Europe's first class of independent farmers. Here are those stories and others, in a tale of triumph coming out of the darkest horror, wrapped up in a scientific mystery that persists, in part, to this day. Cantor's portrait of the Black Death's world is pro-vocative and captivating. Not since Barbara Tuchman's "A Distant Mirror" have medieval men and women been brought so vividly to life. The greatest popularizer of the Middle Ages has written the period's most fascinating narrative
New. No dust jacket as issued. Tight binding with clean text. New. Trade paperback (US). Glued binding. 272 p. Contains: Illustrations. Audience: General/trade. Wonderfully rich, readable, and detailed, this volume rebukes the common fallacies of the greatest medical disaster in history. Cantor pierces the haze of myths that surrounds the understanding of the fundamental impact of the Plague on society, religion, and the Renaissance.
Publishers Weekly, 2001-03-19 The author, currently an emeritus professor at New York University, has had a distinguished career as a medieval historian, and his textbook The Civilization of the Middle Ages has been popular with many students over many years. Here Cantor produces a popular account of one of the greatest disasters ever to befall the people of Europe. The great plague that struck in the mid-14th century, and returned intermittently for centuries thereafter, had a mortality rate of perhaps 40% and consequently ushered in several profound changes. Beginning with a biomedical survey of the disease, the author points out many problems with current beliefs about its origins, transmission and nature. He suggests that in many instances the likely cause of death was anthrax, which has the same initial symptoms as plague. The plague fell on all classes and regions, and the author uses the stories of several individuals to personalize the devastation and its consequences. He makes a particularly compelling case that the death of Thomas Bradwardine, newly consecrated archbishop of Canterbury, had deep repercussions for the development of both science and religion. In some instances the book raises points that deserve fuller treatment, such as the possible role of serpents in the transmission of plague, but the final chapter neatly summarizes the consequences of this calamity. This book will be welcomed by anyone who wants a good introduction to the topic. (Apr.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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