Black Death Analysis


Black Death Analysis


Kisha G. Tracy, Fitchburg State University


Think about and offer your best answers to the questions below based upon the information that accompanies each set of questions.

1) Fourteenth-Century Map of Europe


  • When did the plague hit England?
  • What areas were partially or totally spared? Any theories of why?
2) Fourteenth-Century Map of England


  • What area had the highest mortality rate?
  • What conclusions can you draw from the map?
3) East Smithfield Black Death Cemetery: Charts related to 636 bodies excavated


  • Analyzing "Figure 2: Age distribution," what age group appears to have been hit the hardest by the plague?
  • Looking through the other data, what else can you learn?
4) Table of Death Rates, Worcester, England


  • What manor was hit the hardest? What was its death rate?
  • What was the overall death rate in Worcester?
5) Table of Tithing Member, Essex, England


  • What is the difference in the number of tithing (look up the word "tithe") members in Great Waltham from 1346 to 1351?
  • What might be the consequences of the loss of so many tithing members?

6) Conclusions


  • What can we infer from all this information and data about the people and social climate of the time?
  • If you lived during this time, what might be your concerns?
  • How do you think these concerns might have manifested in the literature of the time?


Activity Outcome

  • Students will be able to articulate the effects of an historical event on literature.

Relevant Course Outcome

  • Students will be able to identify and analyze the textual, historical, and cultural contexts of works of literature.


This activity was developed for a British Literature survey course, so the focus is on Europe and England. It could (and should) be expanded beyond that for other courses.



Kisha G. Tracy, Fitchburg State University, “Black Death Analysis,” Teaching the Middle Ages in Higher Ed, accessed May 29, 2020,

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