The plague is rampant. As a female, you’re considered property to be bought and sold. You are most likely illiterate.
No wonder Lenah Beaudonte didn’t look back after a vampire approached her in the orchard. The 15th century in which Lenah was born and grew up was one of immense change.
Here are the highs points (and lows) of the 15th century:
- The European population had been decimated by the Black Plague (bubonic plague, Black Death) in the 14th century, but was
making strides at recovery by the late 1400s. However, the plague returned in fits and starts up through the 19th century. At its peak, it allegedly killed off 30-60 percent of Europe’s population. It was so bad that Rhode Lewin, Lenah’s creator, chose to join the league of Satan by becoming a vampire rather than face death by plague.
- The War of the Roses, which had raged for generations between the two royal families, the Yorks and the Plantagenets, had pretty much petered out by the 1480s. Meanwhile, England was also finishing up its involvement in a war with France called the Hundred Years War.
- In the 1450s, Johannes Gutenberg began printing Bibles for public consumption, putting the written word in the hands of common people. (I wonder what he’d think of the Kindle?) He was the first European to use movable type printing (around 1439) and the global inventor of the printing press.
- Things were not pretty, but they weren’t as horrible as some modern depictions make them out to be. Women actually had more power than we’re often led to believe, though nothing even
resembling 21st-century society. Still, Lenah would have married, had children, and either worked alongside her husband in his vocation or been confined to a domestic life. Her life expectancy would have been just 35 years.
- Leonardo Da Vinci is painting up a storm, in addition to Bosch, Botticelli and Jan van Eyck.
- Geoffrey Chaucer, author of The Canterbury Tales, dies in 1400 but his works don’t. He is considered the father of English literature.