Middle Ages Lit project notes from 5



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First Source: Altman, Linda Jacobs. Plague and Pestilence: A History of Infectious Disease. Springfield, NJ: Enslow, 1998. Print.
“[The victims of the Black Death] ate lunch with their friends and dinner with their ancestors in paradise." - Giovanni Boccaccio

ANALYSIS: The Plague killed its victims quickly, in some cases within a matter of several hours before they succumbed to the illness and died.

Second Source: http://www.wideopendoors.net/middleages/life/plague.html

The Plague initially spread across England in 1348, transmitted through pus-bulbs, rodents and other vectors, but manifested in a flu-like form during the winter months, where it spread like wildfire throughout the population of London.



  • London cities were heavily populated and had very poor sanitation and plumbing, if at all. This facilitated the spread.

  • On many estates the death rate ranged from as low as 20% to up to even 80% of the population.

  • The heavy trading hub of Bristol is where the first signs on the Black Death showed up.

Cemeteries and gravesites quickly became filled and there were more dying every day than could be buried properly. This lead to the practice of digging massive graves and piling multiple bodies, as many as fifty or a hundred inside at a time.

Inmates and prisoners were hired to drive what were called death carts, which carried the bodies of the infected away from the cities, in exchange for freedom in the event that they survived their job.



  • Death carts were fitted with bells to warn the uninfected away and to call those who had dead to be disposed of.

  • Prisoners, unless somehow immune to the disease, often died quickly.

Third Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/middle_ages/black_01.shtml

Primitive medical practitioners of this time period attempted tactics such as bloodletting or mysticism in order to try and drive what were perceived to be evil spirits away from those who became sick

http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/medicine_in_the_middle_ages.htm

Dante’s Inferno Canto XXIX Notes-Summary



  • When Dante and his crew get to the top of the bridge, they see the sinners and Dante is worried about the sounds and what he sees so he covers his ears to prevent himself from hearing the tortured screaming.

  • Dante compares the horror to Val di Chiana’s Hospitals because of the smell from the festering limbs.

  • Dante climbs down and keeps left of the ridge.

  • At the bottom he sees the sinners being punished and Dante is sickened by seeing all of Aegina’s people sick.

  • There is a myth that Aegina was a girl who Jupiter saw and liked. Jupiter raped her, and Jupiter’s wife got jealous so she wiped out Aegina’s island. Jupiter then felt bad, so he turned all the people who got wiped out into ants.

  • Dante sees that everyone there is infected with a disease, he sees people upon their bellies, some people carrying the infected and Dante just kept walking listening to the sick souls.

  • Dante comes across two sinners propped against each other and compares them to two pans stacked on each other and the two sinners are spotted with scabs.

  • Then the two sinners attack each other with claws and scraping off the scabs, Dante describes this as a knife scraping off scales of a carp (which is a fish)

  • Dante’s guard asks if there are any Italians in hell.

  • And the two sinners attacking each other say that they are both Italian and ask who he is.

  • The guide says he is showing Dante hell.

  • Dante then, asks the sinners to identify themselves and tells them to not be afraid to let him know their names. For Dante is there so that those banished to hell are not forgotten on Earth.

  • One of the sinners tells Dante that he told his buddy that he could teach him to fly, but the sinner couldn’t fly, so his buddy got mad. So mad, in fact, that the buddy burned the sinner alive; and because the sinner practiced alchemy, he was sent to the final ring by Minos. (All the same buddy).

  • Alchemists changed metal into various forms. The Church believed that doing that was heresy. That’s why The Alchemists were sent to the 8th Circle of Hell.

  • The other sinner that was messing beside the first leper spoke of the history of alchemy, and told short tales of some of the greatest alchemists. But he told Dante to look deeply into his eyes as to ensure he spoke of the right words, for he spoke of the one of the greatest alchemists in history, whom of which could aid Dante in his quest.






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