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Social Reactions Of The Populace During The Black Death

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Chapter Summary

The epidemic that struck down the artisans of Bologna forced them to prepare for death by writing their wills in quick succession. This picture of stability and cohesion among urban communities of piety, kinship, and neighborhood is not what we would expect of the period in which epidemic plague struck. This chapter examines the immediate experience of the Black Death as evidenced in the actions of the townspeople recorded in the notarial contracts and wills of the Memoriali and Demaniale. It begins by reviewing and critiquing the common literary evidence for the history of the Black Death and then questions its primacy in historical analysis by offering a new and different picture based on notarial evidence. The chapter describes the social experience of the Black Death, moving from the aggregate display of the behavior of the populace to tracking the whereabouts of individual family members and their relatives.

Keywords: Black Death; Bologna; Demaniale; epidemic plague; Memoriali; populace; social reactions



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