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The epidemic which devastated Medieval Europe, known as the Black Death, struck particularly hard among urban populations, including the Italian city of Florence. A major center of art, religion, and politics, the city that existed after the plague abated in 1350 was far from the city of 1347. Through careful analysis of primary sources, chief among them Il Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio and the Chronice of the Villani Brothers, the scholar can deduce several major trends caused by la grande mortalita. Deeper divisions developed between the rich and the poor, even as status symbols became less indicative of class. Death ritual was profoundly altered, plague saints moved to the forefront of religious thought, and a compulsive focus on the sacrament of Mass developed. These primary sources allow the modern reader to better understand circumstances not experienced before or since.


Third prize winner

Course: Hist 4430: Living with the Dead