Daniel Curtis

Daniel Curtis
Erasmus University Rotterdam | EUR · Erasmus School of History Culture and Communication

PhD

About

77
Publications
39,348
Reads
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509
Citations
Introduction
Daniel Curtis currently works in the History Department at the Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication at Erasmus University Rotterdam. His general expertise lies in societal responses to epidemics in historical perspective, different facets of inequality (and what that means for specific historical societies), and how past societies represent, deal or cope with hazards.
Additional affiliations
February 2019 - present
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Position
  • Professor (Associate)
Description
  • PI of NWO VIDI Project, 800,000 euro for 5 years (2019-24), on epidemics and economic redistribution - mainly testing on the early modern Low Countries
February 2016 - January 2019
Leiden University
Position
  • Professor (Assistant)
Description
  • NWO VENI Project, 250,000 euro on epidemics, inequality and societal responses in the Low Countries
March 2014 - January 2016
Utrecht University
Position
  • PostDoc Position
Description
  • Postdoc on ERC Project on hazards, disasters and coping strategies in Northwest Europe, led by Prof. Bas van Bavel
Education
November 2009 - August 2012
Utrecht University
Field of study
  • Social and Economic History
September 2008 - August 2009
University of Cambridge
Field of study
  • Medieval History
October 2003 - July 2006
The University of York
Field of study
  • History

Publications

Publications (77)
Article
Full-text available
Objective: To determine whether the Black Death and recurring plagues in the period 1349-1450 had a sex-selective mortality effect. Materials and methods: We present a newly compiled database of mortality information taken from mortmain records in Hainaut, Belgium, in the period 1349-1450, which not only is an important new source of information...
Book
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This book explores societal vulnerabilities highlighted within cinema and develops an interpretive framework for understanding the depiction of societal responses to epidemic disease outbreaks across cinematic history. Drawing on a large database of twentieth- and twenty-first-century films depicting epidemics, the study looks into issues including...
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Article
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Early modern warfare in western Europe exposed civilian populations to violence, hardship, and disease. Despite limited empirical evidence, the ensuing mortality effects are regularly invoked by economic historians to explain patterns of economic development. Using newly collected data on adult burials and war events in the seventeenth-century Low...
Article
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During COVID-19, acts of ‘heroism’ – particularly by ordinary people ‘from below’ – have been foregrounded, prompting complicated ethical issues in the public health context. By analysing examples from a large corpus of films about epidemics across the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries, this article investigates how cinema has represented publi...
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In recent decades, the West has appeared almost ‘invincible’ when faced with the threat of exogenous environmental or biological shocks. In accordance with traditional modernity narratives, infectious diseases particularly seemed to belong to either the premodern world or a contemporary ‘underdeveloped’ world. Now that the West is in the full grip...
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If you do not have institutional access, then let me know and I'll send you a copy. Abstract This article employs a large database of 10,360 deaths taken from registrations of graves dug and church bells tolled at Haarlem between the years 1412 and 1547-one of the largest samples and longest series of mortality evidence ever produced for medieval H...
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Recent literature has argued that women in parts of the early modern Low Countries experienced high levels of ‘agency’ and ‘independence’ – measured through ages and rates of marriage, participation in economic activities beyond the household, and the physical occupation of collective or public spaces. Epidemic disease outbreaks, however, also help...
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Data from famines from the nineteenth century onward suggest that women hold a mortality advantage during times of acute malnutrition, while modern laboratory research suggests that women are more resilient to most pathogens causing epidemic diseases. There is, however, a paucity of sex-disaggregated mortality data for the period prior to the Indus...
Book
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Disasters and History offers the first comprehensive historical overview of hazards and disasters. Drawing on a range of case studies, including the Black Death, the Lisbon earthquake of 1755 and the Fukushima disaster, the authors examine how societies dealt with shocks and hazards and their potentially disastrous outcomes. They reveal the ways in...
Chapter
Disasters and History offers the first comprehensive historical overview of hazards and disasters. Drawing on a range of case studies, including the Black Death, the Lisbon earthquake of 1755 and the Fukushima disaster, the authors examine how societies dealt with shocks and hazards and their potentially disastrous outcomes. They reveal the ways in...
Chapter
Disasters and History offers the first comprehensive historical overview of hazards and disasters. Drawing on a range of case studies, including the Black Death, the Lisbon earthquake of 1755 and the Fukushima disaster, the authors examine how societies dealt with shocks and hazards and their potentially disastrous outcomes. They reveal the ways in...
Chapter
Disasters and History offers the first comprehensive historical overview of hazards and disasters. Drawing on a range of case studies, including the Black Death, the Lisbon earthquake of 1755 and the Fukushima disaster, the authors examine how societies dealt with shocks and hazards and their potentially disastrous outcomes. They reveal the ways in...
Chapter
Disasters and History offers the first comprehensive historical overview of hazards and disasters. Drawing on a range of case studies, including the Black Death, the Lisbon earthquake of 1755 and the Fukushima disaster, the authors examine how societies dealt with shocks and hazards and their potentially disastrous outcomes. They reveal the ways in...
Chapter
Disasters and History offers the first comprehensive historical overview of hazards and disasters. Drawing on a range of case studies, including the Black Death, the Lisbon earthquake of 1755 and the Fukushima disaster, the authors examine how societies dealt with shocks and hazards and their potentially disastrous outcomes. They reveal the ways in...
Chapter
Disasters and History offers the first comprehensive historical overview of hazards and disasters. Drawing on a range of case studies, including the Black Death, the Lisbon earthquake of 1755 and the Fukushima disaster, the authors examine how societies dealt with shocks and hazards and their potentially disastrous outcomes. They reveal the ways in...
Chapter
Disasters and History offers the first comprehensive historical overview of hazards and disasters. Drawing on a range of case studies, including the Black Death, the Lisbon earthquake of 1755 and the Fukushima disaster, the authors examine how societies dealt with shocks and hazards and their potentially disastrous outcomes. They reveal the ways in...
Article
Full-text available
One key factor that appears to be crucial in the rejection of quarantines, isolation and other social controls during epidemic outbreaks is trust—or rather distrust. Much like news reporting and social media, popular culture such as fictional novels, television shows and films can influence people’s trust, especially given that the information prov...
Article
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https://www.wiley.com/network/researchers/covid-19-resources-for-the-research-community/not-learning-from-history-learning-from-covid-19
Article
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Films illustrate 2 ways that epidemics can affect societies: fear leading to a breakdown in sociability and fear stimulating preservation of tightly held social norms. The first response is often informed by concern over perceived moral failings within society, the second response by the application of arbitrary or excessive controls from outside t...
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Recent advances in paleoclimatology and the growing digital availability of large historical datasets on human activity have created new opportunities to investigate long‐term interactions between climate and society. However, noncritical use of historical datasets can create pitfalls, resulting in misleading findings that may become entrenched as...
Data
S1. Plague mentions in the Low Countries sources, 1349–1499
Data
S2. Hainaut mortmain mortality data, 1349–1450
Article
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To adequately respond to crises, adaptive governance is crucial, but sometimes institutional adaptation is constrained, even when a society is faced with acute hazards. We hypothesize that economic inequality, defined as unequal ownership of wealth and access to resources, crucially interacts with the way institutions function and are adapted or no...
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It is fitting that the economic historian who has worked most diligently over the past decade to gain a masterful understanding of the paleoscientific work behind research into historical climate and infectious diseases, Bruce Campbell, is reviewed by the scholar with arguably the strongest grasp of both the literature on the scientific aspects of...
Data
This is, to my knowledge, the most extensive bibliographical reference point for all works relating to historical plagues and other kinds of disease, including also broader references to ‘crisis mortality’ and public health. It is not pretending to be a ‘complete’ list of everything ever written on the subject, and is updated only sporadically. The...
Article
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Although the fanciful notion that the Black Death bypassed the Low Countries has long been rejected, nevertheless a persistent view remains that the Low Countries experienced only a 'light touch' of the plague when placed in a broader European perspective, and recovered quickly and fully. However, in this article an array of dispersed sources for t...
Article
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Researchers have published several articles using historical data sets on plague epidemics using impressive digital databases that contain thousands of recorded outbreaks across Europe over the past several centuries. Through the digitization of preexisting data sets, scholars have unprecedented access to the historical record of plague occurrences...
Article
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A long historiography has concluded that the Northern Netherlands was famine free by the seventeenth century. However, this view has been established on limited grain price data and an unclear chronology, lacking a broader comparative perspective, and relying heavily on the explanation that Amsterdam was the centre point of the international grain...
Chapter
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Episodes of dearth and famine can be discerned in documents from the Low Countries from as early as the late Carolingian period. As with other parts of Europe at this time, though, we rely ultimately on the perception and opinion of contemporary chroniclers, making it difficult to say anything quantifiable or comparative. For example, one seventeen...
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Current scholarship reinforces the notion that by the early modern period, plague had become largely an urban concern in northwestern Europe. However, a data set comprised of burial information from the seventeenth-century Low Countries suggests that plague’s impact on the countryside was far more severe and pervasive than heretofore supposed.
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The view of the commons as archaic, ‘backward’ and ‘irrational’ institutions for the management of resources has now been revised in favour of a more positive one, for both past and present societies. Indeed, it is clear that the commons had multifarious ecological and economic benefits for both medieval and early modern rural societies in Western...
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It has frequently been shown that, after severe floods in the pre-industrial period, property within the afflicted rural society often became redistributed more inequitably. This is often seen to be because small farmers did not have the resources to buffer exceptional losses. This article looks at an episode of crisis that occurred in the region o...
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Since the turn of the Millennium, major changes in economic history practice such as the dominance of econometrics and the championing of 'big data', as well as changes in how research is funded, have created new pressures for medieval economic historians to confront. In this article, it is suggested that one way of strengthening the field further...
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Ressenya a Frederic Aparisi & Vicent Royo (eds.), Beyond Lords and Peasants: Rural Elites and Economic Differentiation in Pre-Modern Europe, València, Publicacions de la Universitat de València, 2014, pp. 256, ISBN: 978-84-370-9261-4Review to Frederic Aparisi & Vicent Royo (eds.), Beyond Lords and Peasants: Rural Elites and Economic Differentiation...
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Over the past 25 years, there has been an orthodox view established that 18th-century Southern Italy had a distinctive micro-demographic model based around a number of facets, 3 key ones being a proliferation of neo-local small nuclear households, an exceptionally low average age of first marriage for women (with low levels of life-time singles), a...
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This papers argues that the understanding of causes and effects of hazards and shocks could be furthered by making more explicit and systematic use of the historical record, that is, by using 'the past' as a laboratory to test hypotheses in a careful way. History lends itself towards this end because of the opportunity it offers to identify distinc...
Book
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Why in the pre-industrial period were some settlements resilient and stable over the long term while other settlements were vulnerable to crisis? Indeed, what made certain human habitations more prone to decline or even total collapse, than others? All pre-industrial societies had to face certain challenges: exogenous environmental hazards such as...
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There is now a general scholarly consensus that the concentration of rural people into settlements in Western Europe (as opposed to dispersed or scattered habitations across the countryside) occurred in various stages between the eighth and twelfth centuries, though with regional divergences in precise timing, speed, formation, and intensity. What...
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While alternative settlement structures do exist, it is undeniable that the distribution of large concentrated towns across Southern Italy (and other parts of the Mediterranean) is prolific. Their prevalence and persistence is very curious but as yet not well explained. Initially, their development formed part of a ‘negative story’ about Southern I...
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Rural social and economic history of the Low Countries has long been in theshadow of more dominant urban-focused histories. Perhaps this is unsurprising,given the high level of urbanisation seen in parts of the Low Countries from thehigh Middle Ages onwards. However, it may also be connected with problemsin the discipline of rural history itself –...
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Tine De Moor has developed a bold and robust scholarly framework for explaining the emergence of institutions for 'corporate collective action' in her 'Silent Revolution' article of 2008; the significance of which may serve to be the foundation of a research agenda on the commons for years to come. However, as revealed in this review piece, there a...
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From the late middle ages onwards, many regions of western Europe experienced heightened inequality in the distribution of land via consolidation of property in the hands of interest groups. What happened to those unfortunate rural people who lost their land to wealthier or more powerful interest groups? Commonly a connection has been drawn between...
Book
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This thesis tries to provide an answer to one significant question. Why in the pre-industrial period were some settlements resilient and stable over the long term while other settlements were vulnerable to crisis? All pre-industrial societies had to face economic, environmental, and agricultural challenges at some point, which could come in the for...
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A key strand of research for social and economic historians of the pre-industrial period is the relationship between city and countryside. Sometimes urban and rural environments enjoyed mutually beneficial relationships, though in other cases cities reduced their rural hinterlands to poverty and decay – the question is, why? By focusing on late-med...

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Projects

Projects (3)
Project
This project tests a widely-supported notion that catastrophic shocks such as violent conflict and epidemic diseases were the only times throughout history when societies became more equitable. Was this really so, and were there particular societal and epidemiological conditions that allowed the direction of redistribution to deviate from this pattern?
Project
Epidemics throughout history have led to hatred and fear: from the Black Death and cholera to HIV/AIDS and Ebola. However, epidemic disease could also act as a cohesive force for communities. This project investigates the reasons behind divergent social responses by focusing on plague in the early modern Low Countries.
Project
Societies in past and present are regularly confronted with major hazards, which sometimes have disastrous effects. Some societies are successful in preventing these effects and buffering threats, or they recover quickly, while others prove highly vulnerable. Why is this? Increasingly it is clear that disasters are not merely natural events, and also that wealth and technology alone are not adequate to prevent them. Rather, hazards and disasters are social occurrences as well, and they form a tough test for the organizational capacities of a society, both in mitigation and recovery. This project targets a main element of this capacity, namely: the way societies have organized the exchange, allocation and use of resources. It aims to explain why some societies do well in preventing or remedying disasters through these institutional arrangements and others not. In order to do so, this project analyses four key variables: the mix of coordination systems available within that society, its degree of autarky, economic equity and political equality. The recent literature on historical and present­day disasters suggests these factors as possible causes of success or failure of institutional arrangements in their confrontation with hazards, but their discussion remains largely descriptive and they have never been systematically analyzed. This research project offers such a systematic investigation, using rural societies in Western Europe in the period 1300­1800 ­ with their variety of socio­economic characteristics ­ as a testing ground. The historical perspective enables us to compare widely differing cases, also over the long run, and to test for the variables chosen, in order to isolate the determining factors in the resilience of different societies. By using the opportunities offered by history in this way, we will increase our insight into the relative performance of societies and gain a better understanding of a critical determinant of human wellbeing.