Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist

The Yellow Flag
Quarantine and the British Mediterranean World, 1780–1860

$32.99 (F)

Award Winner

Part of Global Health Histories

  • Date Published: October 2022
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108707282

$ 32.99 (F)

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:
Hardback, eBook

Looking for an examination copy?

If you are interested in the title for your course we can consider offering an examination copy. To register your interest please contact providing details of the course you are teaching.

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • Until the middle of the nineteenth century, quarantine laws in all Western European nations mandated the detention of every inbound trader, traveller, soldier, sailor, merchant, missionary, letter, and trade good arriving from the Ottoman Empire and North Africa. Most of these quarantines occurred in large, ominous fortresses in Mediterranean port cities. Alex Chase-Levenson examines Britain's engagement with this Mediterranean border regime from multiple angles. He explores how quarantine practice laid the foundations for the state provision of public health and constituted an early example of European integration. Situated at the intersection of political, cultural, diplomatic, and medical history, The Yellow Flag captures the texture of quarantine as an experience, its power as an administrative precedent, and its novelty as an example of a continental border built from the ground up by low-level bureaucrats.

    • The first English-language examination of the Mediterranean quarantine system during its period of greatest reach
    • Uses a diverse range of literary, commercial, diplomatic, administrative, and naval source material
    • Reveals an international genealogy for the history of public health reform in Britain
    Read more


    • Winner, 2021 Stansky Prize, North American Conference on British Studies

    Reviews & endorsements

    ‘A refreshingly original look at a phenomenon historians have chronically misunderstood. Imaginative and vivid, The Yellow Flag uses exhaustive archival research to breathe life into centuries-old policies and debates. The book is about more than just quarantine; it delves deeply into one of the great questions of the nineteenth century - and indeed of our own age: what are the responsibilities of the modern state?' David Barnes, University of Pennsylvania

    ‘A new history of the Mediterranean, a new history of early nineteenth-century Britain, and a new history of quarantine. Chase-Levenson has delivered all three in this spectacular study. In those strange and charged places, Mediterranean lazarettos, he shows us how ‘east' and ‘west' were demarcated. A major contribution.' Alison Bashford, University of New South Wales

    ‘Chase-Levenson's rich transnational history of Mediterranean quarantine powerfully illuminates the early 19th century significance of plague and other epidemics for the construction of a ‘European biopolity', the consolidation of quarantine as a system reciprocally binding Britain and its European Mediterranean trading partners, and the oft-times parochial history of English public health.' James Hanley, University of Winnipeg

    ‘… the book provides the most comprehensive approach to the history of quarantine and proves to be an enjoyable and important reading to anyone interested in the history of epidemics, preventative medicine and the history of the Mediterranean.’ Marina Inì, Social History of Medicine

    ‘The Yellow Flag: Quarantine and the British Mediterranean World, 1780–1860 is a timely book … numerous scholars and students will find Chase-Levenson’s work interesting and useful from political, medical, and maritime perspectives.’ Sarah E. Naramore, Book Reviews (

    ‘In this imaginative work, Chase-Levenson (Univ. of Pennsylvania) skillfully argues that quarantine was not some antiquated system but rather a modern tool Britain employed to protect its subjects and trade networks … will interest scholars of Britain and Europe and those interested in empire, maritime history, global trade, globalization, and the history of health and medicine.’ J. Rankin, Choice

    ‘The Yellow Flag will reward readers interested in the history of health, diplomacy, and travel in the Mediterranean and beyond.’ Kathleen Frederickson, Victorian Studies

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2022
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108707282
    • length: 319 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 151 x 17 mm
    • weight: 0.47kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Mediterranean Currents:
    1. Universal agitation
    2. Locating the British Mediterranean world
    Part II. Lazarettos, Health Boards, and the Building of a Biopolity:
    3. Governing quarantine
    4. 'A sort of hospital-prison'
    5. A European system
    Part III. Imagining the Plague:
    6. Plague and 'civilization'
    7. A prescription for England's condition
    Part IV. Old Patterns, New Cordons:
    8. Quarantine and empire
    9. Mutually assured deconstruction
    Conclusion: Plagueomania

  • Author

    Alex Chase-Levenson, University of Pennsylvania
    Alex Chase-Levenson is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania.


    • Winner, 2021 Stansky Prize, North American Conference on British Studies

Related Books

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×
warning icon

Turn stock notifications on?

You must be signed in to your Cambridge account to turn product stock notifications on or off.

Sign in Create a Cambridge account arrow icon

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.