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Chapter Summary

This introductory chapter provides an overview of the key concepts discussed in the book. This book is about society under stress and about people's actions in the face of disease. The social communities of late medieval urban Italy are the context for this study. Diseases mutate over time and, thus, the context for discussion of the experience of the Black Death cannot be bubonic plague. Instead, this study of the epidemic starts with the evidence that remains and makes no assumptions about what may or may not have happened based on the characteristics of the disease. In contrast to the paucity of studies on medieval Bologna, the topic of the Black Death has been the subject of intense historical scrutiny. The debates surrounding the medieval epidemic of 1347-1349 appear unending.

Keywords: Black Death; Bologna; late medieval urban Italy; medieval epidemic; Renaissance Italy



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