The Black Death: The Great Mortality of 1348-50: ABrief History

InstructionsHideBetween 1347 and 1351 a “great pestilence” swept through western Asia, North Africa and Europe. Caused by a bacterial infection (Yersinia pestis) carried by fleas and their mammalian hosts, and facilitated by the increasingly inter-connected world of the 14th century, the bubonic plague burned rapidly through affected populations, often in a single year killing half or more of the people in the lands that it struck. Those who could afford to flee the approaching expanding epidemic often did so, and the sea and land based networks of travel allowed the plague to leapfrog across both the Christian and Islamic worlds. This was not the first, nor would it be the last major outbreak of bubonic plague, but it would be a turning point for the extended Mediterranean region, with estimates ranging between 75 and 200 million total deaths worldwide.

For this paper you are to write your own history of the Black Death based on the primary sources contained in John Aberth’s The Black Death: The Great Mortality of 1348-50: ABrief History with Documents. You may draw on the brief overview that Aberth provides in his introduction, but the bulk of your narrative account should be based on evidence and examples drawn from the edited documents that he includes. In your account, you should address people’s experience of the disease and its effects, its spread around this area of the world, medical treatment and religious responses, and how people explained or made sense of the plague at the time. How was the history of the pandemic the same of different in different areas (most of Aberth’s sources are drawn from Christian Europe, but he also includes documents from the Islamic world, Including Muslim Spain)? Finally, you should reflect on how the history of this pandemic compares to the ongoing pandemic that we are currently living through.

The paper should be 700-900 words. Check your syllabus for submission guidelines.

For this paper I would like you to cite your sources in the following manner: (Aberth, Source [section#]-[source#]).For example, if you were quoting from or directly referring to information from the excerpt of Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron, you would cite it as “(Aberth, Source 4-12).” All quotations or specific pieces of information should be cited. No outside sources should be used.

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