A Black Death reading list

Lovelies! I have had a bunch of requests for a Black Death reading list, which is all I have ever wanted to provide. Because there is so so much to read, I have tried to break it down for you by type of reads.

A lot of these are classics, so check with your fav local bookstore if they have them in. (That is provided that they are doing delivery! But support your local independent shops!)

Best for original sources:

Rosemary Horrox, ed. and tr., The Black Death. Manchester Medieval Sources series. (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1994).

Johannes Nohl, The Black Death. A Chronicle of the Plague, trans. C. H. Clarke. (London: Allen & Unwin, 1926).

Michael Dols, trans., “Ibn al-Wardi’s Risalah al-naba’ ‘an al-waba. A Translation of a Major Source for the History of the Black Death in the Middle East,” in Near Eastern Numismatics. Iconography, Epigraphy, and History: Studies in Honor of George C. Miles, ed. D. K. Kouymijian (Beiruit: American University of Beirut, 1974), pp. 443-55.

Great over-all reads:

Philip Ziegler, The Black Death. (New York: HarperCollins, 1969). There is a great new edition out on Harper Perennial from 2009 though too!

Monica H. Green, “Taking ‘Pandemic’ Seriously: Making the Black Death Global”, The Medieval Globe, (2014), Vol. 1.

Subject-specific reads:

The Black Death. The Impact of the Fourteenth Century Plague, ed. Daniel Williman. (Binghamton, N.Y: Center for Medieval and Early Renaissance Studies, 1982).

Anna Campbell, The Black Death and Men of Learning, (New York: Columbia University Press, 1931).

Karl F. Helleiner, “The Population of Europe from the Black Death to the Eve of the Vital Revolution,” Cambridge Economic History, Vol. 4: The Economy of Expanding Europe in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1967), pp. 1- 95.

Ruth Dunnell, “Xi Xia and the First Mongol Conquest in East Asia,” in, Genghis Khan and the Mongol Empire, eds. William Fitzhugh, Morris Rossabi and William Honeychurch (Media, PA: Dino Don, Mongolian Preservation Foundation; Washington, D.C.: ArcticStudies Center, Smithsonian Institution, 2009), pp. 152-59.

John Masson Smith, “Mongol Campaign Rations: Milk, Marmots, and Blood?” Journal ofTurkish Studies, 8 (1984), 223-28.

Denis Twitchett, “Population and Pestilence in Tang China,” in Studia Sino-Mongolia: Festschrift fŸr Herbert Franke, ed. Wolfgang Bauer, Münchener Ostasiatische Studien 25 (Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner Verlag, 1979), pp. 35-67.

David Herlihy, ed. Samuel K. Kohn, Jr., The Black Death and the Transformation of the West, (Cambridge, MA.: Harvard University Press, 1997).

Not on Black Death per se but it includes some great discussions about it and art:

Paul Binski, Medieval Death: Ritual and Representation (London: British Museum Press, 1996).


If you enjoyed this, please consider contributing to my patreon. If not, that is chill too!


For more on medieval medicine, see:
Chatting about plague for HistFest
On individual blame for global crisis
Not every pandemic is the Black Death
On the plague, sex, and rebellion
On Medical Milestones, Being Racist, and Textbooks, Part I
On Medical Milestones, the Myth of Progress, and Textbooks, Part II
On medieval healthcare and American barbarism

Author: Dr Eleanor Janega

Medieval historian, lush, George Michael evangelist.

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