April 11, 1348 Board of Health
It’s April 11, 1343 in Florence Italy and the number of deaths continued to rise in Florence, despite the City Board mandating that the clothes from the dead must be burned, so now the City Fathers create an emergency eight-person committee (Jupiter in the tenth), that burial must be done promptly. It is obvious looking at this chart that they are under the gun to do something (Mars at the first house cusp square its exalted ruler in the ninth showing the need for action) and stem the black tide but this measure is not it. How do we know? Alas the midheaven, not the part of fortune, gives the clue here.
The midheaven is at 29 Aries 53 is conjunct the fixed star Mirach, theoretically a good sign as it supports reforms, but it has the nature of Venus which rules infections and disease, and so whatever they plan is not attacking the underlying issue — its unfortunately window-dressing. Since Venus, that rules Mirach, is in the tenth house but exalted in Taurus, suggests the Great Mortality, as it was called by the locals, would rage on, because they still haven’t figured out what was the problem i.e. the Pluto ruled rats in the house of long journeys. And this would be a long time as Pluto would be in Aries for about 21 years, and was just a little over halfway through (one degree works well as proxy to one year).
By June, two months later, the death toll was 100 people a day or twenty times the normal daily rate.
Meanwhile in Naples
The poet Giovanni Boccaccio is in Naples during the Great Mortality and like Rome somewhat out of the terror’s arms. He hears of the horrors of his native city, but he does not start writing until 1353, when he pens the Decameron, literally Greek for Ten Days. His great poem is a total break for him — typically a poet of erotica but this horror inspires him to rise to the task. His 100 stories, or ten days with ten stories each day, covers all sorts of people including the biblical Melchizedek and Sultan Saladin as characters; Chaucer in England is impressed and pens his Canterbury Tales.
The other Florentine writer, Giovanni Villani, is still in Naples. A friend of Dante’s he discusses the Plague in his history Nuova Cronica and notices it follows a seacoast route writing in 1348. This is notable as most at the time do not see any pattern.
” Having grown in vigor in Turkey and Greece, and spreading thence over the whole Levant and throughout Mesopotamia and Syria and Chaldea and Cyprus and Rhodes and all the islands of the Greek archipelago, the pestilence has lept onto Sicily, then Sardinia and Corsica and Elba and from there soon reached all the shores of the mainland…after which many lands and cities were made desolate. The plagues lasted until...”
It is unfinished until after his death his nephew Filippo continued the epic, and wrote in his uncle’s epilogue. Our header picture is of Hotel Villani, named in his honour, in Florence. The site says from there you can walk all of Florence.
Every cloth has its trimming
Real estate in Florence and through the neighboring contado plummets, though some shrewd buyers, start amassing land. There is never such a bad cloud that someone does not see a silver lining or as Mrs. Gillespie once said, “Every cloth its trimming.”
- Armstrong, Dorsey, “The Black Death: The World’s Most Devastating Plague” , Chantilly, Virginia, The Great Courses, Inc. c. 2016.
- Boccaccio, Giovanni, Tales from the Decameron, translated by Peter Hainsworth for Penguin Press.
- Mr.Hainsworth wrote,” Boccaccio says that the reader is free to pick and choose among one hundred stores. I have selected thirty-two plus some for framing. I aimed to be representative and include the most famous and best., many picked up by Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Keats. ” If you are going to read any translation, I would recommend this one for starters.
- Father Michael Collin’s DK The Vatican: Secrets and Treasures of the Holy City. 1 Yes this is an Amazon Affliate Link. You know the deal if you buy through Amazon it costs you nothing, just like a Smile donation, but sends me a few pennies of encouragement. Thanks. London: 2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited is a great treat for those who cannot get to the Holy City but are eager to see what lurks inside. It covers all the major rooms including the Royal Swiss Guard, the Papal Tiara, Mass vestments, mitres and gloves. Talk about being decked out to the nines. It’s a real pity they don’t rent space.
- The book is running about $8.00 on Amazon. The other bookstores were about the same. YMMV
- 1Yes this is an Amazon Affliate Link. You know the deal if you buy through Amazon it costs you nothing, just like a Smile donation, but sends me a few pennies of encouragement. Thanks.