The Black Death of 1348 - 49 killed millions in its march across Europe, but how many is still a subject of intense debate with claims ranging between 25 and 50 per cent. This book examines the impact of that appalling disaster on England's most populous city, London. Using previously untapped documentary sources alongside archaeological evidence, a remarkably detailed picture emerges of the arrival, duration and public response to this epidemic and subsequent fourteenth-century outbreaks. Wills and civic and royal administration documents provide clear evidence of the speed and severity of the plague, of how victims made preparations for their heirs and families, and of the immediate social changes that the aftermath brought. Previous scholarly opinions on the timing and duration of the plague are challenged and the mortality rate is revised up to 50 - 60 per cent in the first outbreak, with a population decline of 40 - 45 per cent across Edward III's reign. Overall, The Black Death in London provides as detailed a story as is possible to tell of the impact of the plague on a major medieval English city.
BARNEY SLOANE was a field archaeologist for the Museum of London and is now in charge of research grants at English Heritage. He is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Reading, and a member of the councils of the British Archaeological Association and the London & Middlesex Archaeological Society. He lives in Oxfordshire.