medieval civilization – My Assignment Tutor

258 Part Two The Middle Ages 14 The Fourteenth Century: An Age of Adversity During the Late Middle Ages, roughly the fourteenth and early fifteenth cen_ allies, medieval civilization was in decline. The fourteenth century, an age of adversity, was marked by crop failures, famine, population decline, plagues, stagnating production, unemployment, inflation, devastating warfare, and abandoned villages. Violent rebellions by the poor of the towns and countryside were ruthlessly suppressed by the upper classes. The century witnessed flights and massacres of jews; ers during the High Middle Ages, began to disintegrate. These developments proliferated, and the synthesis of faith and reason, erected by Christian think-pro y age of pessimism and general insecurity. The papacy declined in power, heresy i t century na ts uarny into mysticism, outbreaks of mass hysteria, were signs that the stable and coherent civilization of the thirteenth was drawing to a close.Giovanni Boccaccio THE BLACK DEATH Compounding the economic crisis was the Black Death, or bubonic plague, a bacillus carried by fleas on black rats. The disease probably first struck Mongolia during 1331-1332, and from there crossed into Russia. Carried back from Black Sea ports, the plague reached Sicily in 1347 and then spread swiftly through.. out much of Europe via human contact. Exiting from merchant ships docked in ports, the rats moved inland carrying the deadly fleas. The crowded cities and towns, where sewage made rats more fecund, had the highest mortality rate—as much as sixty percent. Most who caught the plague died. No one knew its cause. Perhaps twenty million people—about one-quarter to one-third of the European population–perished in the worst disaster in recorded history caused by natural forces. Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375) was in Florence when the Black Death broke out in 1348. A few years later he used the plague as the cause which brought together the group of people who tell the 100 stories of The Decameron, whichpre-sented a picture of life in the Late Middle Ages. Following is Boccaccio’s account . of the Black Death as described in The DecameronIn the year 1348 after the fruitful incarna-tion of the Son of God, that most beautiful Giovanni Boccaccio, The Decameron of Giovanni Boc trans. Richard Aldington (Garden Cit y, NY caccio, : Garden City Publishing Company, 1949), pp. 1, 2, 4.of Italian cities, noble Florence, was attacked by deadly plague. It started in the East either through the influence of the heavenly bodies or because God’s just anger with our wicked deeds sent it as a punishment to mortal men; and in a few years killed an innumerable


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