Giovanni boccaccio


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1. According to this account, how did civil order break down during the plague?

2. What responses did people in religious orders have to plague as compared with other people?

3. What plan does the writer seem to have for the immediate future?

JEHAN FROISSART, The Sack of Limoges: On Warfare Without Chivalry (ca. 1400)

The Hundred Years' War (1337-1453) broke out when Edward III of England claimed to be the legitimate heir to the French throne. Although there were extensive truces, France and England remained at war for most of this period. The war was also a civil war, in that large sections of France, especially Burgundy and Aquitaine, supported the English. Over the course of the conflict, medieval warfare changed radically, as new weapons and tactics were introduced, and both countries supported standing armies, which had not existed in Western Europe since the end of the Roman Empire. One ingeniously designed English attack on the French city of Limoges is described below.

[Having mined the town walls,] the miners set fire into their mine, and so the next morning, as the prince had ordained, there fell down a great piece of the wall and filled the moats, whereof the Englishmen were glad and were ready armed in the field to enter the town. The foot-men might well enter at their ease, and so they did, and ran to the gate and beat down the fortifying and barriers, for there was no defense against them: it was done so suddenly that they of the town were not aware thereof.

Then the prince (Edward, Prince of Wales, Edward III's oldest son and the leader of the English armies, also known as the Black Prince), the duke of Lancaster, the earl of Cambridge, the earl of Pembroke, Sir Guichard d'Angle, and all the others, with their companies, entered into the city, and all other foot-men ready apparelled to do evil, and to pill and rob the city, and to slay men, women, and children; for so it was commanded them to do. It was a great pity to see the men, women, and children that kneeled down on their knees before the prince for mercy. But he was so inflamed with ire that he took no heed of them, so that none was heard, but all put to death as they were met withal, and such as were nothing culpable.

There was no pity taken of the poor people who wrought never no manner of treason, yet they bought it dearer than the great personages, such as had done the evil and trespass. There was not so hard a heart within the city of Limoges and if he had any remembrance of God, but that wept piteously for the great mischief that they saw before their eyes, for more than three thousand men, women, and children were slain that day. God have mercy on their souls, for I trow they were martyrs.

And thus entering into the city, a certain company of Englishmen entered into the bishop's palace, and there they found the bishop; and so they brought him to the prince's presence, who beheld him right fiercely and felly, and the best word that he could have of him was how he would have his head stricken off, and so he was had out of his sight...

Thus the city of Limoges was pilled, robbed, and clean brent and brought to destruction.

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