Portrait of Britain: AD 1400

Nigel Saul tells how, in spite of famines and visitations of the plague, conditions were better than ever before for those living in 1400.

At the end of the fourteenth century the British Isles were a land transformed. At the beginning of the century the population everywhere had been high and rising. Towns and villages had been crowded. The countryside had been akin to Langland’s ‘plain full of people’. A hundred years later the position was very different. Population had fallen and continued to fall. Whole villages had vanished from the map. In the towns, rows of tenements stood empty.

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