Primary Sources

Primary Sources - Primary Sources Europes Transformation Michael Slagh Western Civilization I CDR Kelly 14APR05 Slagh 2 Primary Sources Europes

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Primary Sources: Europe’s Transformation Michael Slagh Western Civilization I CDR Kelly 14APR05
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Europe’s Transformation When Marco Polo returned from his celebrated travels to the Far East in 1295, more than half a century passed before his homeland of Italy would fall prey to the great plague. Less than one-hundred twenty five miles away from Venice, Polo’s birthplace, lay the city of Florence, the setting for Boccaccio’s The Decameron. Although separated by more than fifty years, these men lived in similar societies, yet the conditions they write about are quite different. While Polo wrote about Kublai Kahn’s reign of what is now modern day China, Boccaccio wrote about the plague that consumed Europe. The comparison of Marco Polo’s The Travels of Marco Polo and Boccaccio’s The Decameron reveals the distinct moral and societal differences between Italy and the empire of the Great Khan during the Middle Ages. The deaths, poor lifestyles, and hardships of the plaque were major concerns of Boccaccio. In Italy, the people responded to the plague with great fear and anxiety. “No doctor’s advice, no medicine could overcome or alleviate this disease…very few recovered.” 1 With no cure for this disease, the public was divided in its response to the infected and diverse devices of dealing with the new circumstances were used by different groups of people. One group lived a reasonably restrained life by eating the healthiest foods and segregating themselves from society as a whole. This group distanced themselves from major cities, grew their own food, and led a new life that focused on self-control and moderation. On the other hand, some saw fit to satisfy every craving and drank themselves into wild frenzies in order to avoid the reality of the plague. 2 1 McLean, Megan. 2003. Western Civilization Primary Source Reader. New York: McGraw-Hill. 164. 2
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This note was uploaded on 04/21/2008 for the course HH 205 taught by Professor Kelly during the Spring '05 term at Naval Academy.

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Primary Sources - Primary Sources Europes Transformation Michael Slagh Western Civilization I CDR Kelly 14APR05 Slagh 2 Primary Sources Europes

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