Philobiblon: The worst century?

Friday, October 21, 2005

The worst century?

The Uncertainty Principle poses an interesting question: which was the worst century to live in? He's talking Britain; it would be interesting to do an international listing.

TUP agrees with Channel Four that it was the 14th century, with that nasty little visit by the Black Death, but I suspect it might have been the 5th or 6th AD - when the glories of the Roman empire were still a near memory, and everything was falling apart.

(Either pretty well puts hysteria about bird flu, al-Qa'ida and similar in perspective.)

That's within recorded history - most of the millennia of human existence before that must have been pretty equal in misery. I know they say the early farmers were worse of in terms of nutrition etc, but given the fear and uncertainty that we lived in during our hunter-gatherer existence, that couldn't have been a ball of laughs either.


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