BAPTISTA MANTUANUS To BLACK DEATH (Renaissance)

BAPTISTA MANTUANUS

(1448-1516). Spanish-born monk and poet active in Italy, originally named Baptista Spagnolo. He studied at Mantua and Padua and became tutor to the children of the Gonzaga dynasty of Mantua. His early poetry was secular, largely devoted to praising the Mantuan court, but he abandoned his courtly life and entered the Carmelite order with such success that in 1513 he was elected general of the order. His later poetry was profoundly Christian, and many conservative humanists (such as John Colet in England) who had reservations about letting young students read pagan poetry recommended using Mantuanus’ works instead since they were classical in language and form but thoroughly Christian and morally pure. His Eclogues became a widely used school text, and he came to be known as "the Christian Vergil."

BARBARO, ERMOLAO

(the Younger, 1453-1493). The most distinguished Venetian humanist of the 15th century, member of an influential noble family of Venice, educated in part by his uncle Ermolao the Elder (1410-1471), who had entered papal diplomatic service and was made a bishop. An outstanding Latin stylist and Greek scholar, young Ermolao lectured at Venice on Aristotle; and his commentary (Castigationes) on the Natural History of Pliny the Elder was a foundation for later scholarship on that author. Also influential was his handbook for diplomats, De officio legati / The Duties of an Ambassador. Barbara served Venice as a diplomat and became ambassador to the papal curia in 1490, but his acceptance of a papal appointment as patriarch of Aquileia in 1491 led to his permanent exile since the republic strictly forbade its citizens to accept foreign honors and appointments, especially ecclesiastical positions in Venetian territory, without approval of the home government. He died of plague in 1493.


BARBARO, FRANCESCO

(1390-1454). Venetian humanist and political figure, grandfather of Ermolao the Younger. His public career included governorship of several subject territories, ambassadorships, and military commands. He was also a learned humanist, educated by Gasparino Barzizza and the famous schoolmaster Guarino da Verona and familiar with the leaders of contemporary Florentine humanism. His principal work, De re uxoria / On Marriage, discusses how to choose a wife and outlines the duties of the wife of a Venetian aristocrat.

BARDI

Florentine banking family. By 1310 they were the wealthiest family in Florence. They and the other two leading family banks, the Peruzzi and the Acciaiuoli, maintained branches at locations stretching from England and the Netherlands to North Africa and the Middle East. The company’s basic operating capital belonged to the family and a few close partners, but money was also received on deposit from outsiders. The foreign branches were operated by salaried employees or by individual partners sent abroad. The firm traded in agricultural commodities and industrial products, especially woollen textiles, for which Florence was a major center of production, but they drew much of their profit from fees levied on exchange of currency. These fees also served as a legal screen behind which they concealed the practice of usury (charging interest on loans), a practice outlawed by canon law. Conducting large-scale commercial and credit business over great distances was risky. The Florentine banks flourished because they had better and more current economic information than those they did business with.

Extension of credit was the most risky activity of all, and in the 1340s the Bardi and other leading banks discovered this to their sorrow. Both firms made the mistake of lending vast sums to King Edward III of England during the 1330s as he prepared for the conflict with France that became the Hundred Years’ War. The bankers soon realized that they had extended too much credit, but since they had already lent so much, they felt compelled to lend more, lest they lose what they had already lent. They also continued lending because they needed royal licenses for the export of medieval England’s great international product, wool, and lending to the king was the price they had to pay for permission to export. By 1343, when it became obvious that Edward was not going to score a speedy victory, the king repudiated his debts to the unpopular foreign bankers.

The amounts lost were enormous: 900,000 gold florins owed to the Bardi and 600,000 to the Peruzzi, none of it ever repaid. Both firms, and also several other Italian banks, were ruined; and since they also held money on deposit from wealthy individuals throughout Italy, their collapse spread financial loss far beyond their membership. The Peruzzi bank went into bankruptcy in 1343; the Bardi struggled on for three more years but were also liquidated. Smaller firms survived the crash and by the end of the century rose to great wealth and power. The new masters of Florentine banking were the Pazzi, Ru-cellai, Strozzi, and Medici, though these firms never had the vast capital assets of the banks that perished in the 1340s. Some economic historians have concluded that this collapse of the early Florentine banks was a major cause of a great depression that lasted beyond the 1340s.

BAROQUE

Modern term, used most frequently in art history, to describe a post-Renaissance style that continued many of the elements of High Renaissance style while developing and exaggerating other characteristics. Some art historians also insert a transitional phase, which they call mannerism. Both of these terms were originally applied in a pejorative sense: "mannerism" or "mannered style" implies "artificial," while the word "baroque" originally meant "contorted" or "grotesque." In a rough sense, mannerism is used to categorize the work of some Italian artists of the middle and late 16th century, while baroque is conventionally applied to the art of the 17th century. But these delimitations are vague, and the terms themselves are debated.

Even more debatable is the effort of historians of other subjects to extend the terms mannerism and baroque to fields other than art, though in the history of music the term baroque has become well established. Particularly in the case of baroque art, there are sharp regional differences. Some art historians identify three different lines of development, a "Counter-Reformation" style found in Spanish, Italian, south German, and Flemish painting from the late 16th through the 17th century; a "Protestant Baroque" style, exemplified chiefly in the 17th-century art of the Dutch Republic; and a "Courtly Baroque" style in the art of France and England. The term baroque is standard in discussions of art and music of the 17th century.

BASEL, COUNCIL OF

(1431-1449). Pope Eugenius IV reluctantly convened this general council of the church because of pressure from European rulers and many of the lower clergy to obey the decree Fre-quens of the Council of Constance which mandated the calling of frequent general councils. The council opened in 1431 and was dominated by supporters of Conciliarism, the belief that a general council, not the pope, is the supreme authority in the church. The most extreme conciliarists intended to develop councils into a regular representative assembly that would compel the popes to share the absolute power they had claimed since the 13th century. Councils, they believed, would also enact tough reform legislation that would overcome the foot-dragging of the popes, curial officials, and bishops who stood to lose by reform of the church.

An immediate and pressing problem for the council was relations with the Hussite movement of Bohemia. Some at the council wanted to follow a conciliatory policy of negotiation and compromise on the issues that separated the Hussites from other Christians; others wanted to use the council to condemn the Bohemian heresies and to impose that decision by armed force. Another urgent problem arose from the negotiations of Pope Eugenius IV with the leaders of the Greek Orthodox church. He wanted to move the council to Italy and to bring the Orthodox leaders, including the Byzantine emperor and the patriarch of Constantinople, there in order to reunify the whole Christian church. The pope’s efforts to move the council to Italy set off bitter conflict. Eventually the pope called a rival council (the Council of Ferrara-Florence).

At Basel, the struggle between those who wanted to preserve papal absolutism and those who wanted to transform the church into something like a parliamentary monarchy was bitter. The pope’s short-lived success in negotiating reunion with the Greeks, as well as the fear of many bishops that the university theologians and canon lawyers in the council were trying to make the church a democracy, divided the council. Eventually, moderate conciliarists such as Nicholas of Cusa, Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini (the future Pope Pius II), and the pope’s own legate, Cardinal Giuliano Cesarini, withdrew. As the moderates departed, the radicals gained the upper hand. Because Pope Eugenius defied them, they declared him deposed from office and proceeded to elect a new pope, who took the name Felix V. Thus the council itself seemed guilty of reviving the schism. All of the major European rulers rejected this action. After the death of Eu-genius in 1447 and the election of Nicholas V as the next pope, Felix abdicated; and in 1449 the remaining members of the Council of Basel voted to endorse the election of Nicholas and then dissolved their assembly. This disastrous end of the council greatly weakened the whole Conciliar movement.

BEATUS RHENANUS

(Beat Bild von Rheinau, 1485-1547). German humanist, closely linked to the greatest of the northern humanists, Erasmus, and to the press of Johann Froben at Basel. Although Erasmus was the star of the Froben press, known internationally for his textual editions, Beatus handled much of the laborious detail involved in making the editions excellent. He was born in the Alsatian city of Selestat and received an excellent humanistic education in the city’s distinguished school. He studied at Paris (1503-1507), where his talent was recognized by leading humanists such as Lefevre d’Etaples. In 1511 he moved to Basel and began working as an editor and proofreader for Froben. Although he became closely identified with the scholarship of Erasmus, Beatus was also a productive editor in his own right, preparing important editions of the Roman historian Velleius Paterculus (1520), the patristic theologian Tertullian (1521), and an influential collection of historical texts on the early church, Auctores historiae ecclesiasticae (1523), as well as an influential commentary (1526) on the Natural History of Pliny the Elder.

Beatus remained in touch with his home town of Selestat, which was easily accessible from Basel, and in 1527 he moved back there, though he still did work for the Froben press and made occasional visits to Basel. In his later years, he produced a scholarly book on early German history, Rerum Germanicarum libri tres / Three Books of German Affairs (1531) and also published editions of two major Roman historians, Tacitus and Livy. Since Beatus was a strong supporter of Erasmus’ hopes for a peaceful reform of the church, his initial reaction to Martin Luther was favorable. Concern about the division of the church, the uprising of the peasants in 1525, and the growing strength of the Evangelical reformers in Basel itself gradually alienated him from the Protestant movement, even though his own private opinion inclined toward Reformation doctrines.

BEAUFORT, LADY MARGARET

(1443-1509). The mother of the first Tudor king of England, Henry VII. She was descended from King Edward III and in 1455 married Edmund Tudor, earl of Richmond. John Fisher, bishop of Rochester, became her spiritual adviser and encouraged her to use her wealth to support education. She endowed professorships in theology at both Oxford and Cambridge Universities and in 1503 endowed a university preachership at Cambridge. Bishop Fisher persuaded her to give much of her estate to Cambridge, where she founded Christ’s College (1505) and endowed St. John’s College (1511).

BECCADELLI, ANTONIO

(1394-1471). Sicilian humanist and poet, often known as Panormita from the Latin name for his birthplace, Palermo. He studied law and classical literature in several northern Italian cities. His book of sexually suggestive poems, Her-maphroditus / The Hermaphrodite (1425) attracted much notoriety, especially because of its explicit homosexual references. It was condemned and burned by the church as immoral, but the leading political figure of Florence, Cosimo de’Medici, was happy to accept the dedication. The work has often been cited as evidence that the culture of Renaissance Italy was irreligious and morally corrupt. Beccadelli was admired for his classical learning and his skill as a poet. In mid-life he accepted the patronage of King Alfonso V of Naples and Sicily, and he spent the rest of his life at Alfonso’s court, composing a laudatory biography of his patron.

BELLINI

Family of Venetian artists whose works influenced the emergence of a distinctive Venetian Renaissance style of painting. Jacopo (ca. 1400-1470) studied with Gentile da Fabriano (ca. 1370-ca. 1427), a talented painter who worked in a late Gothic style. While much of Jacopo’s work has perished, the surviving paintings show that he had retained the skills of his teacher in depicting color and light but had also mastered the theory and technique of linear perspective described in the treatise on painting by Leon Battista Alberti. Jacopo is best known for training his two sons, Gentile (ca. 1429-1507) and Giovanni (ca. 1431-1516). Gentile was knighted by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III (ruled 1440-1492) and was selected to restore the depiction of early Venetian history in the doge’s palace and to paint an official portrait of each new doge (works which have perished). He also was sent to Istanbul in 1479 to paint for Sultan Muhammad II. His portrait of the sultan survives. Gentile produced many paintings of public processions in Venice. But the family’s greatest painter was the younger brother, Giovanni, who adopted the Netherlandish practice of painting in oils and opened the way for the Venetian High Renaissance style of painting brought to completion by the greatest Venetian master, Titian, who was his pupil.

BELON, PIERRE

(1517-1564). French naturalist. Though born to a poor family, he found aristocratic and royal patronage that not only enabled him to study at the University of Paris but also financed his extensive travels through Europe and the Near East to observe natural phenomena. His two famous works were La Nature et diversit√© des poissons / The Nature and Variety of Fish (1551) and L’Histoire de la nature des oyseaux / Description of the Nature of Birds (1555).

BEMBO, PIETRO

(1470-1547). Venetian humanist and cardinal, noted for his lyric poetry, his editions of earlier Italian authors, his classical scholarship, and his excellent style in both Latin and the Tuscan vernacular. Born to patrician parents and sent as a youth to study in Florence, Rome, and Bergamo under a number of distinguished humanists, including the Venetian Ermolao Barbaro, he also went to Sicily to study Greek under Constantine Lascaris, whose Greek grammar he edited for publication. He became a leading representative of the purist movement in Latin composition known as Ciceronianism, a viewpoint developed in his De imita-tione / On Imitation (1513) but opposed by some contemporary humanists, most notably Erasmus of Rotterdam. Bembo was close to the humanists and Neoplatonic philosophers who dominated the intellectual life of Florence in the late 15th century. In his own writings he espoused Neoplatonism. He emphasized the concept of Platonic love in his vernacular dialogues Gli Asolani / The Asolans (1505).

For several years beginning in 1506, he lived at the elegant and highly intellectual court of Urbino. His interest in Platonism is reflected in the Book of the Courtier by his friend Baldassare Castiglione, a dialogue that is set in the court at Urbino and presents Bembo as a defender of Platonic love against the misogynistic contempt of women expressed by several of the characters.

Bembo’s pure Latin style (and his aristocratic connections) in 1514 secured for him a position as Latin secretary to the Medici Pope Leo X. His efforts to attain higher church offices were disappointed, and in 1519 he moved to Padua. He spent most of the 1520s and 1530s living at Padua and Venice. Despite his reputation for writing elegant Ciceronian Latin, he was also interested in vernacular literature. In 1501 and 1502 he published with the Venetian printer Aldus Manutius critical editions of the poems of Petrarch and Dante’s Divine Comedy, and both his edition of Petrarch and his own poems promoted the growth of Petrarchism. An important product of his interest in vernacular literature was his Prose della volgar lingua /Prose Works on the Vernacular Language (1525). In it he discussed the relative merits of writing literary works in Latin and in Italian and also defended the excellence of the Tuscan dialect as Italy’s literary language. His views on language had great influence on contemporary authors. The poet Ariosto, for example, revised his epic poem Orlando furioso in accord with the standards set forth by Bembo. Bembo’s Rime / Collected Poems (1530) exemplified this ideal. In 1529 Bembo became historian and librarian to the Venetian Republic. He produced Historia Veneta, 1487-1513, a continuation of a work by an earlier author. It was published posthumously in both Latin and his own Italian translation.

Although his philosophical works, especially Gli Asolani, upheld the asexual and purely spiritual ideal of Platonic love, which was also attributed to him in Castiglione’s Courtier, in real life Bembo had a number of lovers, including the woman to whom he dedicated Gli Asolani, Lucrezia Borgia, daughter of Pope Alexander VI. He was consistent in regarding women as fully human persons deserving respect, a view also attributed by Castiglione to his character "Bembo." Bembo took a vow of chastity in 1522 in order to preserve his eligibility for benefices, but from 1513 until her death in 1535, he maintained an enduring connection with a woman with whom he had three children. Under Pope Paul III, Bembo was promoted to the rank of cardinal, ordained to the priesthood, and made a bishop. The influence of one of his female admirers, the aristocratic and highly intellectual poet Vittoria Colonna, probably had much to do with his sudden advancement. This relationship, unlike some of the others, seems to have been purely spiritual and was based on mutual interest in Petrarchan style and Neoplatonic philosophy. Bembo spent much of these last years at Rome, where he played an active role in curial affairs.

BERNARDINO OF SIENA, SAINT

(1380-1444). Franciscan preacher, noted for his denunciation of the moral corruption and violence of Italian society. A dramatic preacher, skilled at using symbolism and public rituals to heighten the effect of his words, he was especially appealing to women. First attracted to religious life after nursing the sick during a plague at Siena in 1400, he became a friar in 1402 and vigorously promoted the strict Observant movement within his order. In 1438 he was elected vicar general of the Observant Franciscans in Italy. After his death, his relics produced reports of miracles, and he was canonized in 1450.

BEROALDO, FILIPPO

(the Elder, 1453-1505). Humanist lecturer and author, professor of rhetoric at the university of his native city, Bologna, from 1472 to his death. He travelled extensively and during a year in Paris (1476-1477), he made a great impression on his French audiences, an early example of success by a humanist lecturer in the most famous northern university. He edited and commented on many classical authors, and his sample collection of letters was often used by humanist lecturers as a textbook for courses on rhetoric.

BESSARION, JOHANNES

(ca. 1403-1472). Greek clergyman and humanist, born at Trebizond in Anatolia. He became a monk at Constantinople in 1423 and a priest in 1430, winning a reputation for erudition. In the following decade he moved to a monastery at Mis-tra in the Peloponnesus and was educated in Platonic philosophy by Georgios Gemistos Pletho. He also became fluent in Latin and in 1438, after becoming bishop of Nicaea, was a member of the Greek delegation that attended the Council of Ferrara-Florence. He strongly favored the union of the churches proclaimed there and in 1439 returned to Constantinople in a vain effort to persuade other leaders of the Greek church to accept the union. Pope Eugenius IV named him a cardinal in order to strengthen his claim to be a mediator between the eastern and western churches.

After the Byzantines repudiated the union in 1440, Bessarion returned to Italy and spent the rest of his life in the West. His theological writings upheld the validity and orthodoxy of the agreements reached at Florence. After the conquest of Constantinople by the Turks in 1453, he campaigned for a crusade to recapture the city. Proud of his Greek heritage, the pagan part as well as the Christian, he bequeathed his library to the republic of Venice, the Italian city most closely linked to the Byzantine past.

Bessarion’s household at Rome became a major center of humanistic scholarship by both refugee Greeks and Italians. The cardinal himself made a fresh translation of Aristotle’s Metaphysics and other Aristotelian works. In the conflict that broke out between philosophical followers of Plato and followers of Aristotle, he upheld a mediating position, arguing that the two philosophers agreed on most important issues. He criticized his own mentor, Pletho, for exaggerating their disagreements and promoting Plato’s authority above Aristotle’s, but in response to a work by another exiled Greek scholar, George of Trebizond, which denounced Plato, he published a rebuttal, In ca-lumniatorem Platonis / Against a Slanderer of Plato (1469), in which he expounded Plato’s philosophy in a way that showed its compatibility with Christianity. This topic was an important influence on the rise of Neoplatonism and had particularly strong influence on the Neoplatonist Marsilio Ficino and his disciples at Florence.

BINCHOIS, GILLES

(1400-1460). One of the major composers associated with the flowering of music at the court of the dukes of Burgundy in the 15th-century Netherlands. Although he produced much liturgical music, he is best known for his secular chansons (songs) accompanying poems of courtly love. Probably born near Mons, he became organist in a church there and later for a long period served as chaplain to Philip the Good, duke of Burgundy (reigned 1419-1467).

BIONDO, FLAVIO

(Flavius Blondus, 1392-1463). A native of Forli, Biondo was a notary, civil servant, and professional scribe at Venice but was important because of his humanistic and historical writings. Although his Latin style was mediocre, his eagerness to explore and describe the antiquities of Italy led to important literary works. He gained the favor of Pope Eugenius IV and was active in the Council of Ferrara-Florence, but he lost favor under the next pope and found support at several princely courts. His major work, Histori-arum ab inclination Romanorum libri / History since the Fall of Rome (1453), also known as the Decades, covered the history of Italy from 410 to the 1440s. It is important because it articulates the emergent Renaissance concepts of the fall of Rome and a fundamental break between ancient history and the "modern" (that is, medieval) period. As an account of medieval Italy, it is important for its critical use of sources and for its presentation of history as a series of secular events rather than as a fulfillment of the decrees of divine providence. Also important was his Italia illustrata, which linked the greatness of ancient Rome to the emergent greatness of modern Italy. He engaged in a controversy on the history of Latin language, contending that the complex Latin found in classical literature really was spoken by all classes, not just an educated elite, a view contrary to the opinion of Leonardo Bruni that classical Latin was too complex to have been used by ordinary Romans. His Roma instaurata / Rome Restored (1481) is a topography of ancient Rome.

BISTICCI, VESPASIANO DA

(1422-1498). Florentine bookseller who supplied the intellectuals and wealthy patrons of his time with manuscript books produced by a large team of professional scribes. Little is known about his early life except that he was born at Florence and began business as a member of the stationer’s guild. His shop became a favorite meeting-place for local humanists and bibliophiles. He heartily disapproved of the newfangled printed books and sold his bookshop in 1480 when he saw that the market for handwritten books was shrinking. In retirement he produced several works, including moral treatises and a book about famous ladies, but his major work was Vite d’uomini illustri / Lives of Illustrious Men, a collection of short biographies of the leading men of his time that presented the lives of the upper-class men who were his own best customers. Appropriately for an author who hated printed books, the Lives remained unprinted until 1839.

BLACK DEATH

Pandemic disease that swept through most of Europe and the Middle East between 1347 and 1350. First recorded in the Crimea in 1347, the epidemic was carried westward to Italy and then swept northwest into France, the Netherlands, England, Germany, Poland, and Russia, with 1348 being the peak year in Italy and the mainland of western Europe. The plague also devastated Egypt and the rest of Muslim North Africa. Contemporary descriptions and modern medical history agree that the principal disease involved was bubonic plague, so called from the buboes, or swollen lymph glands, that appeared in the groin or under the armpits of victims and then turned black. The course of the disease was rapid. Some patients recovered, but for the great majority, infection ended in death after only a few days.

Bubonic plague is caused by an organism, Yersinia pestis, that does not spread directly from person to person but involves a trilateral passage from infected rat to flea to human victim. Being spread by rats and fleas, the epidemic was primarily a phenomenon of the summer and waned or disappeared in cold weather. Well-documented instances in which plague spread actively during the winter suggest that a second illness, pneumonic plague, was concurrent with the bubonic plague, so that the total epidemic may have involved both diseases. Cities seem to have been harder hit than rural districts, though this impression may be a function of better record-keeping in cities. There is considerable evidence that communities of people living together in crowded quarters.

The plague came suddenly and unexpectedly, and as news of it spread, panic ran through society, especially since medical treatment proved useless and no one understood the mechanisms of transmission. There are contemporary accounts of children abandoning infected parents and parents abandoning infected children. The mortality described by contemporary writers like Petrarch and Giovanni Boccaccio (his Decameron is set in the plague year of 1348) is so great that historians long regarded it as grossly exaggerated. But recent demographic studies not only confirm the horror but even suggest that it may have been worse than the most lurid contemporary descriptions claim. Not all parts of Europe were affected. The city of Milan, most of the Netherlands, and the kingdom of Bohemia suffered lightly, while neighboring regions were devastated. Where sources permit careful demographic study, the conclusions are that between 20 and 60 percent of the adult inhabitants of affected communities died during the few days or weeks when the infection raged locally. Figures for Europe as a whole are little more than guesses, but it is probable that between 25 and 30 percent of the total population of Western Europe perished.

Something so horrible clearly seemed to be a judgment of God, and people sought through prayers and processions the safety they could not find through medicine. City governments and other political authorities tried to guard against the plague by shutting their gates to travellers from outside, not realizing that their city walls offered no protection from the movements of the infected rats and fleas that were the agents of contagion. In some places, panic-stricken populations accused local Jews ("the usual suspects" in any medieval disaster) of poisoning the local wells and massacred them. In many regions, European population had already begun a sharp decline from the high populations of the 13th century, the result of the great famines of the early 14th century and also of the economic depression that was evident by the early 1340s. But the Black Death greatly accelerated the decline, and many cities suffered remarkable and long-term declines in population. Florence, for example, had grown from a small town to a metropolis of perhaps 120,000 by the end of the 13th century; after the Black Death, its population may have shrunk to 40,000. Its population rebounded, but the city remained much smaller than its medieval peak throughout the Renaissance.

Although the great epidemic of 1347-1350, "the Black Death" of history and legend, was the greatest demographic disaster in European history, unmatched even by the wars and massacres of the 20th century, bubonic plague became endemic in European populations and seems to have recurred about once in every generation, striking particularly hard at that part of the population born since the last outbreak. There was a second wave of plague in Italy in the 1360s, another about 1400. In England, there were serious recurrences in 1360-1361, 1368-1369, and 1374. Mortality in these later plagues was still high: at Florence in 1400 as much as 28 percent of the population may have perished. Periodic epidemics of bubonic plague became a regular feature of European life throughout the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries, and while the authorities eventually perfected techniques of isolation and quarantine that may have helped to limit the spread of plague, neither those techniques nor the efforts of physicians achieved true control.

Gradually, plague disappeared from western Europe after 1660. The great London plague of 1665 was the final outbreak there. The disease persisted in eastern Europe until the 18th century, and there have been localized outbreaks in Asia and Africa in recent years. The causes of the disappearance of the disease in Europe are debated just as hotly as the causes of the initial epidemic. What remains beyond dispute, however, is that the initial onset of bubonic plague in 1347-1350 was a shattering blow to both the population and the psychological self-confidence of Europe at the very outset of the Renaissance.

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