Author, John Aberth was born on July 6, 1963. He currently lives in Roxbury, Vermont and serves as an associate academic dean at Castleton State College. There he teaches several history class. He has also taught at many other colleges in Vermont, including the University of Vermont. In 1992, John Aberth received his Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge in Medieval Studies after he received his masters from the University of Leeds. He is the author of five books, whose main focus is the effects of the Black Death in the later Middle Ages, including The First Horsemen: Disease in Human History, The Black Death: The Great Mortality of 1348-1350, and A Knight at the Movies: Medieval History on Film.
Published in 2001, From the Brink of the Apocalypse: Confronting Famine, Ware, Plague, and Death in the Later Middle Ages, is a mid-length, non-fiction, bibliographical novel. Aberth writes "both in his lively, readable style aimed at the nonspecialist and in his antiheroic, almost romantic portrayal of late medieval miseries," Kevin Hughes from Church History. The second edition of this novel includes many more examples from mainland Europe than the first version. Because Aberth is originates from England, his main focus is the experiences of the English during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. With his novel, Aberth develops a thesis that expresses his belief that the crises that struck Europe in the Middle Ages did not represent a period of decline. He believed it was a chance for Europeans to create new answers to solve their problems.
The book begins with a prologue, in which a letter is sent from a musician working for a cardinal in 1347. It is sent from the papal court of Avignon and is received by some of the musician's friends. The purpose of the letter is to tell of the origins of the "great morality," (p. 1) which came to be known as the Black Death. He explains how the disease had moved from England, and within two years had spread across mainland Europe. It is also thick with several more appearances of apocalyptic signs. Near the end of the prologue, John Aberth introduces the Four Horsemen.
Aberth dedicates the first section to the First Horseman, Famine. The beginning of the chapter is focused on the decline of medicine in the Middle Ages. He insists that men's actions led to famine by ways of warfare, monies, and the provision of armies. The second chapter is devoted to the Second Horseman, War. The most famous war during the Middle Ages is the Hundred Years' War. It is there that Aberth begins his chapter. He explains that the shift from chivalry to a "new desire and determination to exterminate the enemy" (p. 63) is the cause of war. The third chapter is committed to the third horseman, Plague. Many previous scholars believed the death rates from the Black Plague were between one-fourth and one-third of the population. Through careful research Aberth revised those numbers and increased them to about forty percent. “He...