Cover image for The Black Death, 1346-1353 : the complete history
The Black Death, 1346-1353 : the complete history
Benedictow, Ole Jørgen.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK ; Rochester, N.Y., USA : Boydell Press, 2004.
Physical Description:
xvi, 433 pages : illustrations ; 34 cm
Format :


Call Number
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Home Location
Item Holds
RC172 .B46 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



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.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

In this ambitious book about the 14th-century Black Death, Benedictow (Univ. of Oslo) makes use of the many recently published localized studies in order to arrive at an up-to-date estimate of the plague's mortality. The author divides the book into several sections discussing the Black Death's epidemiology, territorial spread, and estimated mortality. The most detailed chapters trace the spread of the plague and its death rate country by country, analyzing such lands as the Balkans, Scandinavia, and the Baltic countries, which are not usually included in earlier general histories of the Black Death. In compiling and analyzing the localized studies, Benedictow concludes with a major reassessment of the mortality of the Black Death; rather than the 30 percent suggested by most historians, he estimates that 60 percent of Europe's population died between 1346 and 1353, resulting in "an event of great historical importance." The encyclopedic, fact-laden structure of this book makes it somewhat difficult to read, but as a much-needed compilation of localized studies, it is a valuable addition to the historiography of the Black Death. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. Graduate students and faculty. D. L. Sample University of Virginia's College at Wise