The Black Death is the name given to the plague outbreak in Europe between 1347-1352 CE. The term was only coined after 1800 CE in reference to the black buboes (growths) which erupted in the groin, armpit, and around the ears of those infected as the plague struck the lymph nodes; people of the time referred to it as “the pestilence” among other terms. It came from the East where it raged between 1346-1360 CE and was a combination of bubonic, septicemic, and pneumonic plague.
One of the primary sources on the outbreak was the Italian writer and poet Giovanni Boccaccio (l. 1313-1375 CE), best known for his work The Decameron (written 1349-1353 CE), which tells the story of ten people who entertain themselves with stories while in isolation from the plague. In the first chapter, before introducing the characters, he describes how the plague struck the city of Florence in 1348 CE, how people reacted, and the staggering death toll which would finally amount to between 30-50 million before it wore itself out. The outbreak would completely alter the European social structure as well as the belief systems of many of those who survived it.
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The Original Article titled Boccaccio on the Black Death: Text & Commentary.
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