How Norwich Fought Against the Plague: Lessons from the Past
EAST ANGLIAN BOOK AWARDS (History and Tradition) Winner 2021The global pandemic of 2020-21 has upset the lives of millions throughout the world bringing into stark reality the fragility of our way of life or even human existence. It has highlighted how well we react in a crisis and how the decisions taken by civic authorities can ensure the safety or otherwise of the population.
In this book the author, through a close examination of surviving records from different periods, looks at the outbreak of bubonic plague in the city of Norwich from the first wave in 1348-1349 to its last in 1666-67. The reader will find they used familiar ways of combatting the disease: isolation, lockdown, shielding, movement restrictions, closure of schools and places of entertainment and social distancing. There was also a recognition that certain ‘key workers’ were needed to ensure society continued to function as normally as possible. While some made fortunes, the devastating effect on the economy, with the poorest in society being the worst hit, is perhaps the least well documented.
Some historians argue that plague heralded in seismic changes as a ‘new normal’ led to rapid social change: this book shows how decisions made at the time affected the city in many ways.
To get a flavour of the content, Frank's online talk on the subject to the Norfolk Records Office is well worth listening to: