The Black Death unquestionably wrought a horrific death toll in the mid-14th century, but did it also sweep in social and cultural changes that eventually led to the rise of Europe? Professor James Belich certainly thinks so, and he lays out his argument in new book The World The Plague Made. Speaking to David Musgrove, James considers how the inventiveness required in a depopulated world led to global changes with long-term consequences.

James Belich is the author of The World the Plague Made: The Black Death and the Rise of Europe (Princeton University Press, 2022)

Help us develop the HistoryExtra podcast offering by taking part in our latest research:


Dr David MusgroveContent director,

David Musgrove is content director of the website and podcast, plus its sister print magazines BBC History Magazine and BBC History Revealed. He has a PhD in medieval landscape archaeology and is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society.