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19 - Conclusion

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 June 2012

Rosemary Horrox
Affiliation:
Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge
Rosemary Horrox
Affiliation:
University of Cambridge
W. Mark Ormrod
Affiliation:
University of York
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Summary

All historical boundaries are problematic. The dates chosen as the limits for this volume, 1200–1500, are arbitrary – as the choice of round numbers was designed to signal and as was stressed in the Preface. None of the contributors would claim that these three centuries represent a self-contained period. The exploration of their themes has meant looking back to earlier developments that were still working themselves out when this period opens, but also glancing forward to suggest how changes continued to unfold in the next century. No-one is in the business of trying to identify some medieval/modern divide, and although, through convention and convenience, most of us continue to use the term ‘the late middle ages’ it is with no intention of implying that the period should be characterised as liminal, let alone autumnal.

One consequence of this perspective is that the Black Death, as in other recent work, is denied its traditional status as the earthquake that reduced medieval certainties to rubble and allowed the building of the modern world. This model was firmly established by Cardinal Gasquet in the first major English study of the plague, published in 1893. Gasquet was particularly interested in the possibility that the plague might explain the Protestant Reformation, but he was also convinced that it brought about a complete social revolution as well. Other historians have linked it more specifically with the rise of capitalism, individualism, the middle classes and the modern state.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2006

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  • Conclusion
  • Edited by Rosemary Horrox, University of Cambridge, W. Mark Ormrod, University of York
  • Book: A Social History of England, 1200–1500
  • Online publication: 05 June 2012
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139167154.020
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  • Conclusion
  • Edited by Rosemary Horrox, University of Cambridge, W. Mark Ormrod, University of York
  • Book: A Social History of England, 1200–1500
  • Online publication: 05 June 2012
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139167154.020
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Conclusion
  • Edited by Rosemary Horrox, University of Cambridge, W. Mark Ormrod, University of York
  • Book: A Social History of England, 1200–1500
  • Online publication: 05 June 2012
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139167154.020
Available formats
×