An introduction to the current understanding of the early spread of the Black Death.
Mussis, Gabriele de’. “The Arrival of the Plague.” In The Black Death, ed. Rosemary Horrox, 14-26. Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 1994.
Further Reading: Primary Sources
Bartsocas, Christos. “Two Fourteenth Century Greek Descriptions of the ‘Black Death’.” Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences 21 (1966): 394-400.
Heyligen, Louis. “The Plague in Avignon.” In The Black Death, ed. Rosemary Horrox, 41-45. Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 1994.
Dols, Michael. “Ibn al-Wardi’s Risalah al-naba’ ‘an al-waba. A Translation of a Major Source for the History of the Black Death in the Middle East.” In Near Eastern Numismatics. Iconography, Epigraphy, and History: Studies in Honor of George C. Miles, ed. Dickran Kouymijian and George Miles, 443-455. Beirut: American University of Beirut, 1974.
Muisis, Gilles. “The Plague Seen from Tournai.” In The Black Death, ed. Rosemary Horrox, 45-47. Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 1994.
“The Report of the Paris Medical Faculty, October 1348.” In The Black Death, ed. Rosemary Horrox, 158-163. Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 1994.
Villani, Giovanni. “Chronicle.” In John Aberth, The Black Death: The Great Mortality of 1348-1350: A Brief History with Documents, 19-20. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.
- In this petition, the inhabitants of Caffa ask for money, soldiers, and a bishop. Why do they need each of those things? Why do they turn to the doge of Genoa for help?
- At the time when this petition was written, had anyone in Caffa shown symptoms of plague? If so, which symptoms? If not, why did the petition mention “an endless plague of death”?
- Compare what this source says about the early transmission of the Black Death with the account of Gabriele de’ Mussis. Based on what you know about modern medical research on plague transmission, which version makes more sense? Based on what you know about medieval ideas about disease and contagion, which version would make more sense to medieval readers?
- Compare what this source says about the early transmission of the Black Death with another source from the list of Further Reading – Primary Sources. How are the two accounts similar? How are they different? What do you think the differences imply?
Further Reading: Secondary Sources
Barker, Hannah. “Laying the Corpses to Rest: Grain Embargoes and the Early Transmission of the Black Death in the Black Sea, 1346-1347.” Speculum (forthcoming 2021). Preprint on BodoArXiv, May 2, 2020.
Dols, Michael. The Black Death in the Middle East. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1979.
Green, Monica, ed. Pandemic Disease in the Medieval World: Rethinking the Black Death. In The Medieval Globe 1, no. 1 (2014). Accessed May 7, 2020.
Schamiloglu, Uli. “The Impact of the Black Death on the Golden Horde: Politics, Economy, Society, Civilization.” Golden Horde Review 5, no. 2 (2017): 325-343.
Spyrou, Maria, Marcel Keller, Rezeda Tukhbatova, et al. “Phylogeography of the Second Plague Pandemic Revealed through Analysis of Historical Yersinia pestis Genomes.” Nature Communications 10/4470 (2019), 1-13.
Varlik, Nükhet. Plague and Empire in the Early Modern Mediterranean World: The Ottoman Experience, 1347-1600. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015.
Barker, Hannah, “Early Transmission of the Black Death,” Middle Ages for Educators, May 7, 2020. Accessed[date]. https://middleagesforeducators.princeton.edu/early-transmission-black-death.