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Course Materials Meet a Medieval Source Videos

Early Transmission of the Black Death, by Hannah Barker

Hannah Barker, Arizona State University

Primary Sources

Petition from the Residents of Caffa, 1347

Mussis, Gabriele de’. “The Arrival of the Plague.” In The Black Death, ed. Rosemary Horrox, 14-26. Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 1994.

Further Reading: Primary Sources

Bartsocas, Christos. “Two Fourteenth Century Greek Descriptions of the ‘Black Death’.” Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences 21 (1966): 394-400.

Heyligen, Louis. “The Plague in Avignon.” In The Black Death, ed. Rosemary Horrox, 41-45. Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 1994.

Dols, Michael. “Ibn al-Wardi’s Risalah al-naba’ ‘an al-waba. A Translation of a Major Source for the History of the Black Death in the Middle East.” In Near Eastern Numismatics.  Iconography, Epigraphy, and History:  Studies in Honor of George C. Miles, ed. Dickran Kouymijian and George Miles, 443-455. Beirut: American University of Beirut, 1974.  

Muisis, Gilles. “The Plague Seen from Tournai.” In The Black Death, ed. Rosemary Horrox, 45-47. Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 1994. 

The Report of the Paris Medical Faculty, October 1348.” In The Black Death, ed. Rosemary Horrox, 158-163. Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 1994.

Villani, Giovanni. “Chronicle.” In John Aberth, The Black Death: The Great Mortality of 1348-1350: A Brief History with Documents, 19-20. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.

Discussion Questions

  1. In this petition, the inhabitants of Caffa ask for money, soldiers, and a bishop. Why do they need each of those things? Why do they turn to the doge of Genoa for help?
  2. At the time when this petition was written, had anyone in Caffa shown symptoms of plague? If so, which symptoms? If not, why did the petition mention “an endless plague of death”?
  3. Compare what this source says about the early transmission of the Black Death with the account of Gabriele de’ Mussis. Based on what you know about modern medical research on plague transmission, which version makes more sense? Based on what you know about medieval ideas about disease and contagion, which version would make more sense to medieval readers?
  4. Compare what this source says about the early transmission of the Black Death with another source from the list of Further Reading – Primary Sources. How are the two accounts similar? How are they different? What do you think the differences imply?

Further Reading – Seconday Sources

Barker, Hannah. “Laying the Corpses to Rest: Grain Embargoes and the Early Transmission of the Black Death in the Black Sea, 1346-1347.” Speculum (forthcoming 2021). Preprint on BodoArXiv, May 2, 2020. 

Dols, Michael. The Black Death in the Middle East. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1979. 

Green, Monica, ed. Pandemic Disease in the Medieval World: Rethinking the Black Death. In The Medieval Globe 1, no. 1 (2014). Accessed May 7, 2020. 

Schamiloglu, Uli. “The Impact of the Black Death on the Golden Horde: Politics, Economy, Society, Civilization.” Golden Horde Review 5, no. 2 (2017): 325-343.

Spyrou, Maria, Marcel Keller, Rezeda Tukhbatova, et al. “Phylogeography of the Second Plague Pandemic Revealed through Analysis of Historical Yersinia pestis Genomes.” Nature Communications 10/4470 (2019), 1-13.

Varlik, Nükhet. Plague and Empire in the Early Modern Mediterranean World: The Ottoman Experience, 1347-1600. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015.

To Cite This Page

Barker, Hannah, “Early Transmission of the Black Death,” Middle Ages for Educators, May 7, 2020. Accessed[date]. http://middleagesforeducators.com/uncategorized/early-transmission-of-the-black-death,-by-hannah-barker/

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Course Materials

A Medieval Plague Lesson Plan, by Merle Eisenberg

Merle Eisenberg, SESYNC, Co-Founder The Middle Ages for Educators

Teaching medieval diseases and pandemics, especially the plague, has become, not surprisingly, more central to courses on medieval history over the last few months. Luckily, the medieval studies community includes many generous and talented colleagues eager to share their expertise and resources. Below you will find some open-access material the Middle Ages for Educators has collected including background material, primary sources, and short lessons on reactions to plague. We also offer more background reading on plague and pandemics in our resources page.

Background on the Plague

You can find some great background about the biology and history of the plague on the Infectious Historians podcast episode entitled “Plagues in Human History,” which can also be found on most major podcasting networks. If your students want to know more about the two major outbreaks, the Justinianic Plague and the Black Death, there are additional episodes on each of them as well. This podcast is co-hosted by Merle Eisenberg and the website has links to additional readings, some of which are open-access.

Primary Sources

Jessica Goldberg at UCLA has provided us with her own translation and commentary of the famous 1348 Ordinances of Pistoia. The Ordinances were issued upon the arrival of the plague early in the Spring of 1348 (March or April) and are the city’s response about a month later. Her wonderful translation also includes artwork that really give a unique idea of what was happening in Pistoia when the plague struck.

Merle Eisenberg also uploaded a video, sources, and questions for teaching the Justinianic Plague (c. 541-750 CE). He has provided a mini lesson for teaching students about what its impact may (or may not) have been.

Reactions to Plague

Dan Smail’s video and lesson plan about the effect of the Black Death on a single woman and her family in Marseille is definitely a great way to discuss the individual impact of this disease. It is one thing to think about the mortality rate of a pandemic or its impact on governments, but Smail offers a micro-history that demonstrates how the diseases devastated families, through various other viewpoints such as legal history, gender, and disability studies. He tells a powerful story of the past that has striking resonances for the present.

Abigail Agresta has also written a wonderful, short blog post on the Infectious Historians website that offers a way into how medieval people responded to the outbreak of the Black Death. Like many of us today, there were only so many options that people living in the medieval period had and she offers a source on them plus a short discussion. Her blog post could be a useful interactive exercise to do with your students as another way to teach the outbreak of the Black Death.

To Cite this Page

Eisenberg, Merle, “A Medieval Plague Lesson Plan,” Middle Ages for Educators, May 4, 2020. Accessed[date]. http://middleagesforeducators.com/uncategorized/a-medieval-plague-lesson-plan/

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Asynchronous Digital Activities

Interactive Map of a French Peasants’ Revolt – The Jacquerie of 1358, by Justine Firnhaber-Baker

Justine Firnhaber-Baker, University of St. Andrews

Resource

Digital Map Resource, The Jacquerie Revolt of 1358

Discussion Questions

  • In the video, I talk about unequal taxation, partly as a result of the Black Death, as one cause of anti-noble feeling among commoners. How else might demographic decline have destabilized social relations?
  • How different was urban and rural life for late medieval commoners? What kinds of tensions might have arisen between urban and rural rebels as a result?
  • In addition to Paris, other northern French towns, such as Senlis, Amiens, Orléans, and Rouen, had involvement in the revolt. What can you tell about their actions based on the map?

Further resources

Translations of some sources for the Jacquerie in Samuel K. Cohn, jr., Popular Protest in Late Medieval Europe: Italy, France, and Flanders, Manchester Medieval Sources (Manchester, 2004), pp. 143-200.

Further Reading

Firnhaber-Baker, Justine, “The Eponymous Jacquerie: Making Revolt Mean Some Things,” in The Routledge History Handbook of Medieval Revolt, ed. Justine Firnhaber-Baker with Dirk Schoenaers (Abingdon and New York, 2017), pp. 55-75.

Firnhaber-Baker, Justine, “Soldiers, Villagers, and Politics: Military Violence and the Jacquerie of 1358,” in Routiers et mercenaires pendant la guerre de Cent ans: Hommage à Jonathan Sumption, ed. Guilhem Pépin, Françoise Lainé, and Frédéric Boutoulle (Bordeaux, 2016), pp. 101-14.

Coming soon!

Firnhaber-Baker, Justine, “The Social Constituency of the Jacquerie Revolt of 1358.” Speculum, vol. 95, no. 3 (2020).

Firnhaber-Baker, Justine, The Jacquerie Revolt of 1358: Violence, Politics, and Society in Medieval France, Oxford Studies in Medieval European History (Oxford, 2021).

To Cite this Page

Firnhaber-Baker, Justine, “The Jacquerie Revolt of 1358,” Middle Ages for Educators, April 27, 2020. Accessed[date]. http://middleagesforeducators.com/digital-activity/the-jacquerie-revolt-of-1358,-by-justine-firnhaber-baker/

Categories
Meet a Medieval Source Videos

A Life in the Black Death: The Inventory of Alayseta Paula (Marseille, 1348), by Dan Smail

Dan Smail, Harvard University

smail@fas.harvard.edu

Further Reading. The theme of resilience addressed in the conclusion of this talk is developed at length in my article “Accommodating Plague.” I have also listed several recent contributions to the extensive literature on the Second Plague Pandemic that were referred to indirectly in the talk.

The inventory, transcribed and translated with questions for discussion, can also be downloaded, as well as the transcript of this video.

Geltner, Guy. “Getting Medieval on COVID? The Risks of Periodizing Public Health | History News Network.” Accessed March 31, 2020. http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/174758.

Pandemic Disease in the Medieval World: Rethinking the Black Death. Published in The Medieval Globe, vol. 1, no. 1/. Accessed March 31, 2020. https://scholarworks.wmich.edu/tmg/vol1/iss1/.

Smail, Daniel Lord. “Accommodating Plague in Medieval Marseille.” Continuity and Change 11, no. 1 (1996): 11–41. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0268416000003076.

Spyrou, Maria A., Marcel Keller, Rezeda I. Tukhbatova, Christiana L. Scheib, Elizabeth A. Nelson, Aida Andrades Valtueña, Gunnar U. Neumann, et al. “Phylogeography of the Second Plague Pandemic Revealed through Analysis of Historical Yersinia Pestis Genomes.” Nature Communications 10, no. 1 (October 2, 2019): 1–13. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-12154-0.

To Cite this Page

Smail, Daniel Lord. “A Life in the Black Death: The Inventory of Alayseta Paula (Marseille, 1348),” Middle Ages for Educators, April 1, 2020. Accessed [date]. http://middleagesforeducators.com/videos/a-life-in-the-black-death-the-inventory-of-alayseta-paula/