Black Death: The Great Mortality of 1348-1350: A Brief History with Documents / Edition 1

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A fascinating account of the phenomenon known as the Black Death, this volume offers a wealth of documentary material focused on the initial outbreak of the plague that ravaged the world in the fourteenth century. A comprehensive introduction that provides important background on the origins and spread of the plague is followed by nearly 50 documents organized into topical sections that focus on the origin and spread of the illness; the responses of medical practitioners; the societal and economic impact; religious responses; the flagellant movement and attacks on Jews provoked by the plague; and the artistic response. Each chapter has an introduction that summarizes the issues explored in the documents; headnotes to the documents provide additional background material. The book contains documents from many countries — including Muslim and Byzantine sources — to give students a variety of perspectives on this devastating illness and its consequences. The volume also includes illustrations, a chronology of the Black Death, questions to consider, a selected bibliography, and an index.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312400873
  • Publisher: Bedford/St. Martin's
  • Publication date: 2/1/2005
  • Series: Bedford Cultural Editions Series
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 200
  • Sales rank: 400,806
  • Product dimensions: 5.92 (w) x 8.18 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

JOHN ABERTH lives in Roxbury, Vermont, and teaches history at Vermont's Castleton State College, where he formerly served as associate academic dean. He has taught history at a number of other institutions, including Middlebury College, the University of Vermont, St. Michael's College, the University of Nebraska, and Norwich University. He received his Ph.D. in Medieval History from Cambridge University in England and has published several books, including Churchmen in the Age of Edward III: The Case of Bishop Thomas de Lisle (1996), From the Brink of the Apocalypse: Confronting Famine, War, Plague and Death (2000), and A Knight at the Movies: Medieval History on Film (2003).

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Table of Contents

Table of Contents



A Note about the Text and Translations



Introduction: The Black Death in History

The Black Death as Historical Event

Historical Significance of the Black Death

Studying Medieval Sources


The Documents

1. Geographical Origins

Nicephorus Gregoras, Byzantine History, ca. 1359

Abu Hafs ‘Umar Ibn al-Wardi, Essay on the Report of the Pestilence, ca. 1348

Giovanni Villani, Chronicle, ca. 1348

Louis Sanctus, Letter, April 27, 1348

2. Symptoms and Transmission

Michele da Piazza, Chronicle, 1347–1361

Giovanni Boccaccio, Introduction to The Decameron, 1349–1351

Louis Sanctus, Letter, April 27, 1348

John VI Kantakouzenos, History, 1367–1369

3. Medical Responses

Medical Faculty of the University of Paris, Consultation, October 6, 1348

Alfonso de Córdoba, Letter and Regimen concerning the Pestilence, ca. 1348

Gentile da Foligno, Short Casebook, 1348

Jacme d’Agramont, Regimen of Protection against Epidemics, April 24, 1348

AbuJa ‘far Ahmad Ibn Kha tima, Description and Remedy for

Escaping the Plague, February 1349

Gui de Chauliac, Great Surgery, 1363

4. Societal and Economic Impact

Francesco Petrarch, Letters on Familiar Matters, May 1349

Giovanni Boccaccio, Introduction to The Decameron, 1349–1351

Agnolo di Tura, Sienese Chronicle, 1348–1351

Jean de Venette, Chronicle, ca. 1359–1360

Ahmad Ibn ‘Ali al-Maqri zi, A History of the Ayyubids and Mamluks, 15th Century

City Council of Siena, Ordinance, May 1349

The Córtes of Castile, Ordinance, 1351

Wiltshire, England, Assize Roll of Labor Offenders, June 11, 1352

5. Religious Mentalities

Gabriele de Mussis, History of the Plague, 1348

Michele da Piazza, Chronicle, 1347–1361

Simon Islip, Archbishop of Canterbury, Effrenata (Unbridled), May 28, 1350

Hamo Hethe, Bishop of Rochester, and Thomas de Lisle, Bishop of Ely, Post -Plague Parish Poverty, July 1, 1349, and September 20, 1349

Libertus of Monte Feche, Last Will and Testament, September 21, 1348

‘Imad al-Din Abu ’l-Fida ‘Isma ‘ilb. ‘Umar Ibn Kathir, The Beginning and End: On History, ca. 1350–1351

Abu Hafs ‘Umar Ibn al-Wardi, Essay on the Report of the Pestilence, ca. 1348

Lisan al-Din Ibn al-Khatib, A Very Useful Inquiry into the Horrible Sickness, 1349–1352

6. The Psyche of Hysteria

The Flagellants

Heinrich of Herford, Book of Memorable Matters, ca. 1349–1355

Fritsche Closener, Chronicle, 1360–1362

Gilles li Muisis, Chronicle, 1350

King Philip VI of France, Mandate to Suppress the Flagellants, February 15, 1350

Jewish Pogroms

King Pedro IV of Aragon, Response to Jewish Pogrom of Tárrega, December 23, 1349

Takkanoth (Accord) of Barcelona, September 1354

Interrogation of the Jews of Savoy, September– October 1348

Mathias of Neuenburg, Chronicle, ca. 1349–1350

Konrad of Megenberg, Concerning the Mortality in Germany, ca. 1350

Pope Clement VI, Sicut Judeis (Mandate to Protect the Jews), October 1, 1348

7. The Artistic Response

The Dance of Death

The Great Chronicle of France, ca. 1348

John Lydgate, The Dance of Death, ca. 1430

Death as Chess Player, St. Andrew’s Church, Norwich, ca. 1500

Transi Tombs

François de la Sarra, Tomb at La Sarraz, Switzerland, ca. 1390

Archbishop Henry Chichele, Tomb at Canterbury Cathedral, ca. 1425

A Disputacioun betwyx the Body and Wormes, ca. 1450


A Chronology of the Black Death (1347–1363)

Questions for Consideration

Selected Bibliography


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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2009

    The Black Death

    This book brings to light the history as well as the suffering of the people of this era.From the "starting place" and The Plague's trek through Europe,you feel like you are actually in these places with these poor people affected by this.The author does and excellent job relating the specifics of these horrible times and the thoughts and feelings of all involved.This book makes you realize that no-one was safe from this dreadful disease.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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