186 Pages 11 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    186 Pages 11 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Plague and the City uncovers discourses of plague and anti-plague measures in the city during the medieval, early modern and modern periods, and explores the connection between plague and urban environments including attempts by professional bodies to prevent or limit the outbreak of epidemic disease.

    Bringing together leading scholars of plague working across different historical periods, this book provides an inter-disciplinary study of plague in the city across time and space. The chapters cover a wide range of periods, geographical locations and disciplinary approaches but all seek to answer significant questions, including whether common motives can be identified, and how far knowledge about plague was based on an understanding of the urban space. It also examines how maps and photographs contribute to understanding plague in the city through exploring the ways in which the relationship between plague and the urban environment has been visualised, from the poisoned darts of plague winging their way towards their victims in the votive pictures from the Renaissance, to the mapping of the spread of disease in late nineteenth-century Bombay and photographing Honolulu’s great plague fire in 1900.

    Containing a series of studies that illuminate plague’s urban connection as a key social and political concern throughout history, Plague and the City is ideal for students of early modern history, and of the early modern city and plague more specifically.

    Introduction: The Plague and the City in History

    Lukas Engelmann, John Henderson and Christos Lynteris

    Chapter 1: ‘Great Stenches, Horrible Sights and Deadly Abominations’: Butchery and the Battle Against Plague in Late Medieval English Towns

    Carole Rawcliffe

    Chapter 2: Plague in Early Modern London: Chronologies, Localities, and Environments

    Vanessa Harding

    Chapter 3: ‘Filth is the Mother of Corruption’: Plague and the Built Environment in Early Modern Florence

    John Henderson

    Chapter 4: Plague Views: Epidemics, Photography, and the Ruined City

    Robert Peckham

    Chapter 5: The Disease Map and the City: Desire and Imitation in the Bombay Plague, 1896-1914

    Nicholas H. A. Evans

    Chapter 6: ‘A Source of Sickness’. Photographic Mapping of the Plague in Honolulu in 1900

    Lukas Engelmann

    Chapter 7: Public Culture and the Spectacle of Epidemic Disease in Rabat and Casablanca

    Branwyn Poleykett


    Lukas Engelmann is Chancellor’s Fellow for sociology and history of biomedicine at the University of Edinburgh. His doctoral research focused on the visual medical history of AIDS/HIV. His current research focuses on the digital transformation of epidemiology and the history of epidemiological models and concepts in the long twentieth century.

    John Henderson is Professor of Italian Renaissance History in the Department of History, Classics and Archaeology, Birkbeck, University of London; Fellow of Wolfson College, University of Cambridge; and Research Professor, Monash University, Melbourne. His previous publications include The Renaissance Hospital (2006).

    Christos Lynteris is Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology at the University of St Andrews and Principal Investigator of the European Research Council funded research project Visual Representations of the Third Plague Pandemic (2013–2018). His work focuses on the anthropological and historical examination of infectious disease epidemics. His previous books include The Spirit of Selflessness in Maoist China (2012), Ethnographic Plague (2016) and Histories of Post-Modern Contagion (edited with Nicholas Evans, 2018).


    'Through interdisciplinary approaches in medical, anthropological, and visual histories, the essays in this volume unravel complex interconnections between plague and urban environments from the Black Death to the twentieth century. Among their novel discoveries, they chart a shift in the visualization of plague from an emphasis on diseased bodies to the mapping and photographing of stark cityscapes, devised to understand and control epidemic disease.'

    Samuel Cohn, University of Glasgow, UK

    'Urban leaders once believed they could sense plague risks in fetid miasma, or map risky environments house-by-house, or photograph epidemic fodder within ubiquitous scenes of dirt and disorder. This set of engaging new studies highlights the urban-centred backdrop to much plague history. Readers will wind through backstreets and cul-de-sacs, spaces where the privileged identified plague spots.' 

    Ann G. Carmichael, Indiana University, USA