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Background

The best estimates of England's population during the period 1300-1600 all agree that a relatively large population in 1300 (of perhaps 5-6 million) was drastically reduced by 40% or more during the savage initial visitation of plague in 1348/9, which is commonly referred to as the Black Death. There is also general agreement that, once reduced, the population remained more or less static at the reduced level and did not begin to increase again until the late 1400s or early 1500s.

English population, 1340-1660AD

Historians have been arguing for the last 50 years over the explanation of this curious phenomenon. Many possible causal factors have been ruled out during this time, and it is now generally accepted that the explanation must be related to the rate of infant mortality.  However, no accepted reason for the change in infant mortality has previously been advanced.

New research has finally produced a convincing explanation, based on the analysis of large data-sets of contemporary documents from many parts of England. In all cases, the results are consistent, and all point to the same conclusion - namely, that it was a specific new development in vernacular architecture that was the direct cause of a quantum reduction in the infant mortality rate, and that this in turn produced the rise in population that occurred in the 16th century.

This is summarised and documented in a research paper, which is currently being evaluated and peer-reviewed for publication in the international journal of a leading historical organisation (an initial stage of peer-review by a British professor of vernacular history now based in the USA has already given strong support for the findings of the paper).

A detailed paper and a Powerpoint slide-set summarising the research and its findings may be downloaded via the above links.