Research Paper Proposal: The Black Death

1449 words - 6 pages

The anticipated research paper will be taking into consideration the perspectives of the individuals that lived and died as a result of the Black Death, specifically from the year 1348 CE – 1350 CE and in the better known parts of the world during that period, the reactions, preventative measure that were taken to combat the plague, the religious and governmental response. In the collection of primary sources amassed by John Aberth in The Black Death, 1348-1350: the great mortality of 1348-1350 ; a brief history with documents1 he very succinctly provides a condensed description of each document by giving a background of the author as well as the source of the primary source. Aberth manages to do this while remaining impartial, an admirable skill to have especially when it comes to examining primary sources, even in the limited way Aberth does. Aside from those brief narratives before each source, Aberth does not add any additional information or opinions. In his book From the brink of the apocalypse: confronting famine, war, plague, and death in the later middle ages2, he does go in depth regarding the reception to the Black Death. He does not immediately start with what occurred during the Black Death; he details the world before that seemingly apocalyptic event with an examination of the social structure that existed during the Middle Ages, such as the rise of chivalry and the revolutions in warfare and the Great Famine that immediately preceded the plague. In this way Aberth sets the reader up to gain a means of understanding the resulting responses to the plague from the very different yet similar mindset of a person of medieval times. For example, although Aberth considers the primary belief was that the plague was caused by God3, he cites a pronouncement by the medical faculty of the university of Paris in October of 1348 as using astrology to determine the cause and transmission of the plague. In their determination, “Jupiter, being wet and hot, draws up evil vapors from the earth, and Mars, because it is immediately dry and hot, then ignites the vapors, and as a result there were lightnings, sparks, noxious vapors and fires throughout the air.”4
Rosemary Horrox's The Black Death5 is entirely confined to Europe in the areas that presently comprise the United Kingdom6, Italy and France, and covers the plague through the first to the fourth outbreak. Horrox's book is similar to Aberth's Great Mortality in that it provides a selection of primary sources which, although they span the various outbreaks, also give insight to the medieval reaction. Additionally, Horrox subsequently goes into the reactions and consequences of the plague in the same way that Aberth does in From the brink of the apocalypse, only she provides primary sources for these. Before each selection of primary sources Horrox puts them into context consequently providing a set-up to each group of sources. This method comes across as much more organized than...

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