The Black Death

The Black Death

4.5 2
by Joseph P. Byrne
     
 

Probably the greatest natural disaster to ever curse humanity, the Black Death's lethality is legendary, killing between a quarter to over half of any given stricken area's population. Though historians suspect a first wave of bubonic plague struck the Mediterranean area between 571 - 760 C.E., there is no doubt that the plague was carried west by the Mongol Golden

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Overview

Probably the greatest natural disaster to ever curse humanity, the Black Death's lethality is legendary, killing between a quarter to over half of any given stricken area's population. Though historians suspect a first wave of bubonic plague struck the Mediterranean area between 571 - 760 C.E., there is no doubt that the plague was carried west by the Mongol Golden Horde in the late 1340s as they raided as far west as Constantinople, where it is believed that Genoese traders became infected, and then carried, the disease into European and northern African ports after their escape. Within about two years practically the entire European continent and much of North Africa had been burned over by this disaster of apocalyptic proportions.

Eight thematic chapters guide the reader through the medical perspective of the plague— medieval and modern—and to the plague's impact on society, cities, individuals, and art of the time. Medieval doctors named miasmatic vapors—bad air —as a primary cause of infection, along with an improper balance of the four Humors—blood, phlegm, black bile and yellow bile, often caused by ominous astrological alignments; or so they believed. Scapegoats, often Jews, were persecuted and murdered as frightened people desperately sought somebody to blame for the spread of the plague. Others assumed the plague was God's punishment of wicked humanity, and roamed the countryside in groups that would flagellate themselves publicly as an act of atonement. An annotated timeline guides the reader to the key events and dates of this recurring disaster. Nine illustrations show how artists represented the plague's impact on the self and society. Twelve primary documents, half of them never before translated into English, come from eyewitnesses ranging from Constantinople, Damascus, Prague, Italy, France, Germany, and England. A glossary is provided that enables readers to quickly look up unfamiliar medical and historical terms and concepts such as Bacillus, Verjuice, and Peasants' Revolt of 1381. An annotated bibliography follows, divided by topic. The work is fully indexed.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780313324925
Publisher:
ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
Publication date:
09/01/2004
Series:
Greenwood Guides to Historic Events of the Medieval World Series
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
1,204,754
Product dimensions:
6.14(w) x 9.21(h) x 0.63(d)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

JOSEPH P. BYRNE is a European historian and Associate Professor of Honors at Belmont University in Nashville, TN. He has conducted research and published articles on a wide variety of subjects, from Roman catacombs to American urbanization, though his area of expertise is Italy in the era of the Black Death.

Table of Contents

Ch. 1Overview : plague in the Middle Ages1
Ch. 2The Black Death and modern medicine15
Ch. 3The Black Death and medieval medicine33
Ch. 4Effects of the Black Death on European society57
Ch. 5Psychosocial reactions to the Black Death73
Ch. 6European art and the Black Death89
Ch. 7Individual and civic responses in Cairo and Florence103
Ch. 8Epilogue : the end of the Black Death and its continuing fascination123
Biographies131
Abu Abdullah ibn Battuta131
Charles IV133
Clement VI134
Francesco di Marco Datini da Prato137
Galen of Pergamum140
Gentile da Foligno142
Lisad-ad Din ibn al-Khatib143
Francesco Petrarch145
Alexandre Emile John Yersin147
Primary documents151
1The description of the pestilence : from the Historiarum (after 1355)151
2"Wer wil nu wissen das" (c. 1349-55)154
3Plague tract (1348)155
4Compendium de epidemia, book 2 (1348)159
5"A diet and doctrine for the pestilence" (fifteenth century)162
6The treatise on the pestilence in Italian : chapter 2 (c. 1447)167
7Last testament of Marco Datini of Prato, Italy, June 1, 1348170
8"Risalah al-Naba' 'an al-Waba'" : an essay on the report of the pestilence (1348)173
9Anonymous poem in the Chronicle of Damascus, 1389-97178
10"Disputation betwixt the body and worms"179
11The Jews of Strassburg, February 1349186
12A Florentine diary : December 1496 to February 1499189

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