Nothing experienced in human history, before or since, eclipses the terror, tragedy and scale of the Black Death, the disease which killed millions of people in Medieval Europe. The Scourging Angel tells the story of Britain immediately before, during and after this catastrophe. Against a backdrop of empty homes, half-built cathedrals and pestilence-saturated cities, we see communities gripped by unimaginable fear, shock and paranoia. By the time it completed its pestilential journey through the British Isles in 1350, the Black Death had left half the population dead. Despite the startling toll of life, physical devastation and sheer human chaos it inflicted, Britain showed an impressive resilience. Amid disaster many found opportunity, and the story of the Black Death is ultimately one of survival.
The enormous value of Gummer's book, for all its apparent narrowness of focus, is that it concentrates attention on the plague as an episode in the Hundred Years War and the new mercantilism that was opening up northern seas and nations to world trade - (a) fine book * Herald * A fearsomely ambitious book from an exciting new writer... A compelling and sobering picture of a world - peopled with kings, soldiers, bishops, peasants - that is both remote and familiar -- Simon Russel Beale A rich, thoughtful and utterly riveting historical narrative... A treasure chest of detail * Daily Telegraph * Benedict Gummer's highly impressive book charts the subsequent spread of the disease in meticulous and terrible detail * Sunday Telegraph * This remarkable, ambitious book by a new, young historian is positive about the new society that survived disaster * The Times *