The Scourging Angel


The author has written a comprehensive study of the Great Death (as it was called at the time – The Black Death was a 19th-century invention) with its immense impact upon Britain in the second half of the 14th century. Gummer describes the spread of the pestilence, advance notice of which had already reached the country from mainland Europe, throughout the rest of the British Isles. It entered initially via a port in Dorset and spread via the main nodes of communication. The estimated mortality rate was probably over half of the population, with subsequent revisitations in the latter years of the century taking further heavy tolls, especially on children, who had developed no immunity from previous episodes.

This is also a detailed history of 14th-century Britain, the underlying socio-economic structures and behaviour, and the government and politics of the day – Edward III’s campaign in France and the long-running struggles against the Scottish and Irish. There is a wealth of detail, which is impeccably researched and is an excellent source for fiction writers of the period. Some conclusions are at variance with conventional wisdom: for example, that the Great Death did not have much long term and profound effects upon the economy. Gummer argues that the trends in society would have led to an ending of the feudal landholding structure in any case, notwithstanding the almost unimaginable grief and distress that such high rates of death caused to the afflicted population, whose world did indeed turn upside down to a hellish state in a few short weeks.


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(UK) £25.00

(UK) 9780224077675




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