From the beginning to the end of 1479 England was all but prostrated by the plague, and perhaps this accounts for the fact th at the internal history of the kingdom remains almost a blank during that year. The king was careful to stay away from London, but even at Eltham and Sheen he lived in dread, and when, in March, his yearold son, George, Duke of Bedford, died, probably of the dread disease, 1 his physicians seem to have advised a change of diet, as he appealed to the Pope for permission to eat meat, eggs, and food prepared with milk during Lent and on Sunday and other fast days. His Holiness was kind enough not only to grant this dispensation but, as Edward’s petition stated that it was customary in England for the king to be attended at table by a large number of his nobles, to extend it, though for the Lenten season only, to any eight persons the king might choose to wait upon him and to two doctors and two cooks; 2 and thanks to, or in spite of, the unusually hearty food he was thus enabled to enjoy on every day of the year, the king’s life was spared. But very many of his subjects succumbed. “Much people” fled from London to the country, and the courts were adjourned, first from Easter to Trinity term and then from Trinity to Michaelmas term, and the danger was by no means over even at Michaelmas. 3 At the end of October the king wrote to the chancellor for a dedimus potestatem for Elizabeth Shuldeham, lately chosen abbess of the monastery of Barking, as “great mortality” reigned in the monastery and he did not want her to “come 250unto us in her person to do her fealty.” 1 And as late as 6th November John Paston, whose brother Walter had died in August while at home from Oxford for his vacation and their grandmother, Agnes Paston, soon after, reported a sad state of things in Norfolk. “The people dieth sore in Norwich,” he wrote, “and especially about my house, but my wife and my women come not out, and flee further we can not; for at Swainsthorpe, since my departing thence, they have died and been sick nigh in every house of the town.” There was still another death in the Paston family, that of no less a person than Sir John himself, during the month in which this letter was written, and it was not until sometime in December that another man of the family, called to London by business, was able to assure his mother that “thanked be God the sickness is well ceased here.” 2