Chapter

The Successo della Peste

Samuel K. Cohn

in Cultures of Plague

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780199574025
Published online February 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191722530 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199574025.003.0005
 						The Successo della Peste

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The chapter turns to northern Italy, where the majority of 1575–8 plague tracks were written and which broke physicians' near monopoly over these manuals, with bishops, parish priests, government administrators, gate‐guards, and especially notaries joining the chorus. These new works mostly shunned erudite definitions, ‘remote’ causes, and Galenic notions of humours and air. They tracked the paths by which plague spread to an author's city and then employed health office records to trace the disease's mounting mortality and reactions to plague from administrative decrees to religious processions. Within the narrative structure formed by death statistics, they portrayed the collective psychology of their cities and told stories of the bizarre and of the writers' own mental anguish.

Keywords: northern Italy; notaries; Galen; public health records; religious processions; collective psychology; bizarre stories

Chapter.  22639 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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