The Black Death
The plague hit hard and fast. People lay ill little more than two or three days and died suddenly….He who was well one day was dead the next and being carried to his grave,” writes the Carmelite friar Jean de Venette in his 14th century French chronicle. From his native Picardy, Jean witnessed the disease’s impact in northern France; Normandy, for example, lost 70 to 80 percent of its population. Italy was equally devastated. The Florentine author Boccaccio recounts how that city’s citizens “dug for each graveyard a huge trench, in which they laid the corpses as they arrived by hundreds at a time, piling them up tier upon tier as merchandise is stowed on a ship.