The Black Death and the Transformation of the West by David Herlihy

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Synopsis

In this small book David Herlihy makes subtle and subversive inquiries that challenge historical thinking about the Black Death. Looking beyond the view of the plague as unmitigated catastrophe, Herlihy finds evidence for its role in the advent of new population controls, the establishment of universities, the spread of Christianity, the dissemination of vernacular cultures, and even the rise of nationalism. This book, which displays a distinguished scholar's masterly synthesis of diverse materials, reveals that the Black Death can be considered the cornerstone of the transformation of Europe.

 

About David Herlihy

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David Herlihy (d. 1991) was Barnaby Conrad and Mary Critchfield Keeney Professor and Professor of History at Brown University. Samuel K. Cohn, Jr., is Professor of Medieval History at the University of Glasgow. Among his books are The Cult of Remembrance and the Black Death and Women in the Streets: Essays on Sex and Power in the Italian Renaissance.
 
Published September 28, 1997 by Harvard University Press. 128 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, History, Travel, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

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Indeed, he questions whether the Black Death even was plague: He notes that medieval chroniclers did not mention epizootics (mass deaths of rats or other rodents, which are a necessary precursor to plague) and did mention lenticulae or pustules or boils over the victims' bodies, which is not char...

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Publishers Weekly

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Most historians would agree that the 14th-century Black Death transformed the West. But few are entirely agreed on just how. Even Herlihy, a prominent medievalist who died in 1991, continually modifie

Sep 01 1997 | Read Full Review of The Black Death and the Trans...

Publishers Weekly

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Herlihy begins by questioning the assumption that the Black Death was Yersinia pestis, or bubonic plague, arguing that one primary sign--the massive death of rats--was missing, and that some of the symptoms might indicate typhus, tuberculosis or anthrax.

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London Review of Books

The second fallacy is to accept the old colonialist idea that ‘epidemics seem to arise from causes that are independent of human agency.’ It is true enough that disease types may evolve without human agency;

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Project MUSE

Remarkably, Herlihy ignores the historical continuity initiated by the Black Death, which was followed in western and central Europe first by three centuries of extraordinarily high mortality and consistent disease descriptions, then by continued activity in eastern Europe and the near East, and ...

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