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Environment, Society and the Black Death: An Interdisciplinary Approach to the Late-Medieval Crisis in Sweden

By: Per Lagerås(Editor)

208 pages, colour illustrations

Oxbow Books

Paperback | Nov 2015 | #231179 | ISBN-13: 9781785700545
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £35.99 $46/€40 approx

About this book

In the mid-fourteenth century the Black Death ravaged Europe, leading to dramatic population drop and social upheavals. Recurring plague outbreaks together with social factors pushed Europe into a deep crisis that lasted for more than a century. The plague and the crisis, and in particular their short-term and long-term consequences for society, have been the matter of continuous debate. Most of the research so far has been based on the study of written sources, and the dominating perspective has been the one of economic history. A different approach is presented here by using evidence and techniques from archaeology and the natural sciences. Special focus is on environmental and social changes in the wake of the Black Death. Pollen and tree-ring data are used to gain new insights into farm abandonment and agricultural change, and to point to the important environmental and ecological consequences of the crisis. The archaeological record shows that the crisis was not only characterised by abandonment and decline, but also how families and households survived by swiftly developing new strategies during these uncertain times. Finally, stature and isotope studies are applied to human skeletons from medieval churchyards to reveal changes in health and living conditions during the crisis. The conclusions are put in wider perspective that highlights the close relationship between society and the environment and the historical importance of past epidemics.


Part I. Introduction
      Per Lagerås
1. An interdisciplinary approach
2. Current knowledge on the late-medieval crisis
3. Societal crisis and environmental change
Part II. Empirical studies
4. Abandonment, agricultural change and ecology
      Per Lagerås, Anna Broström, Daniel Fredh, Hans Linderson, Anna Berg, Leif Björkman, Tove Hultberg, Sven Karlsson, Matts Lindbladh, Florence Mazier, Ulf Segerström & Eva Sköld
5. Change, desertion and survival – an archaeology of the late-medieval crisis
      Lars Ersgård
6. Living conditions in times of plague
      Caroline Arcini, T. Douglas Price, Maria Cinthio, Leena Drenzel, Mats Andersson, Bodil Persson, Hanna Menander, Maria Vretemark, Anna Kjellström, Rickard Hedvall and Göran Tagesson

Part III. Conclusions in a wider perspective
7. Environment–society interactions
      Per Lagerås
8. Studying the late-medieval crisis – reflections on research perspectives
      Lars Ersgård
9. Epidemics in a social context
      Caroline Arcini
10. Summary of conclusions
      Per Lagerås

Author presentations
Appendix 1. Pollen sites
Appendix 2. Osteological stature data
Appendix 3. Isotope data

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