The Great Famine (1315–17) abruptly ended a population explosion in England that had seen the population almost triple since the time of the Domesday Book (1086). The population would recover, barely, before the Black Death wrought devastation of even greater magnitude (1348–50). Combined, these catastrophic events would stall, then reverse, the rapid urban growth that had characterized the previous two centuries. The major magnet was London, with a population around 80,000 by 1300. With the high urban mortality rates of the time, London’s growth was largely fed by migration. Most was from the immediate hinterland of the city, but the median migration was 40 miles (65 km), with significant proportions from the far west, north and abroad. Norfolk was the most populous county in 1290, and contributed a large share, while Sussex, where the large Norman estates resisted fragmentation, contributed relatively little, despite its proximity.
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