In the summer of 1348 the medieval world was changed forever by a crisis of apocalyptic proportions. Never before or since has humanity experienced anything like the events that unfolded as the Black Death swept through northern Europe. Within a year between 30% & 50% of the population had died. As the plague advanced across Europe panic and terror gripped the population.
In Kilkenny a Franciscan friar John Clyn chronicled events as he waited for the plague to hit his hometown. Hear his account here. (St Molings well mentioned can be still seen in the town of St Mullins County Carlow. I will post pictures next week.)
This post marks the beginning of my research for my second book (my first is available here) which is on these fascinating times. The working title is “1348: A medieval Apocalypse – The Black Death in Ireland“. This book will look at the events of that fateful summer of 1348, and its aftermath. While I write this book, I will be posting blogs posts, biographies of the key characters & podcasts of my research which will be a fascinating journey through the 1340s and 1350s. To receive these podcasts etc. simply enter your email below and press send. These posts, podcast and videos will not necessarily be available through my blog feed or iTunes.
When the plague hit towns, chaos followed. indeed the worst fears of the Kilkenny chronicler we heard above materialised. In this clip we hear the words of Agnolo Di Tura, a chronicler in Siena, Italy who painted a truly terrifying picture of his home town during the plague.
Despite surviving through such horrific ordeal, life didn’t necessarily improve in the aftermath of the Black Death. This is an account of Jean de Venette a chronicler in France describing life in the 1350s.
This is echoed in the account of Richard Fitzralph, the Archbishop of Armagh in 1349. Fitzralph relayed a vision of Ireland struggling amid widespread violence. He used life the tale of the Necromancer of Toledo to make his point. This clip is the answer Satan supposedly gave the Necromancer when he asked which country sent the most souls to hell.
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In the highly superstitious with little understanding of medicine the plague produced hysterical responses, the most extreme being the flagellants. These were groups who paraded in large numbers behind a cross often whipping themselves. Here Heinrich of Herford, Westphalia describes one such group.
These audio clips are just snippets of what to expect in the months to come as I research my new book “1348: a medieval Apocalypse – The Black Death in Ireland“. If you want to keep up to speed subscribe below – it will be a fascinating journey deep into our medieval past.