Surviving Plague – an extract from Florence Under Siege

Escape Into Art, Look Through the Lens of History, Seek Certainty in Science …

To help us all keep on reading over the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing sample chapters, extracts, author interviews and articles here on the Yale Books Blog. Missed our latest post? You can find everything under Time to Read.

When last summer John Henderson published Florence Under Siege: Surviving Plague in an Early Modern City, he little realized how relevant his book would become within the context of the current COVID-19 pandemic. Many of the themes he examines for the seventeenth century are echoed in the present war against disease, from policies of containment, mitigation and quarantine to the reactions of individuals confined to their houses.

Plague remains the paradigm against which reactions to many epidemics are often judged. In the book, John Henderson examines how a major city fought, suffered, and survived the impact of the plague. Going beyond traditional oppositions between rich and poor, the book provides a nuanced and more compassionate interpretation of government policies in practice, by recreating the very human reactions and survival strategies of families and individuals.

Today’s extract is Chapter 8: Surviving Plague.

Florence Under Seige

Florence Under Siege
Surviving Plague in an Early Modern City

John Henderson

“John Henderson’s analysis of the context and quality of local government in an early modern Italian city stands out as a major work of historical scholarship”Anne Hardy, Times Literary Supplement


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