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At the Dawn of ModernityBiology, Culture, and Material Life in Europe after the Year 1000$
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David Levine

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780520220584

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520220584.001.0001

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At the Dawn of Modernity

David Levine

University of California Press

In considering the social implications of the Black Death, it is vital to emphasize the point that it was a recurrent pandemic. Its devastation was not just the result of its initial encounter with a virgin population but the way in which its repeated attacks precluded a quick recovery. These repetitive attacks turned the demography of the next five or six generations inside out. In each decade during the five or six generations after the Black Death, there were seven years of normal mortality and three years of crisis mortality. The implications of the recurrent plague visitations translated into making the average annual death rate 2.2 times the normal background level. The Black Death reconstructed the age profile of the European population, from a broadly based pyramid toward a rough and vertically extended one. The plague pandemic set new demographic mechanisms in train so that for more than one hundred years, a negative rate of population growth prevailed.

Keywords:   Black Death, Europe, plague, demography, population

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