Black Death Essay


Horrox, trans. and ed., The Black Death assignment
Choose at least four from the following:
Horrox Selections, including: Narratives – No. 21: “The plague according to Henry Knighton” Religious Explanations – No. 49: “Be watchful” No. 52, 53: “The Flagellants” Scientific Explanations – No. 56, “Report of the Paris medical faculty” No. 59: “The dangers of corrupted air” No. 62: John of Burgundy (medical treatise for non-professionals) Human Agency – No. 69-71: (accusations against Jews) No. 98: “The ordinance of laborers”

These sources represent different kinds of primary source material that medieval historians use to learn more about the Black Death.
As you read them, you are to answer the following questions:

  1. What kind of primary source is this? What kinds of things can this kind of source tell us? What kinds of things can’t it tell us?
    Your essay must be between 1200-1500 words long. It will be marked out of 100 points, equivalent to 10% of your final grade. The papers are DUE on Dec. 4th by midnight – upload them via Moodle (or bring a hard copy to lecture on Dec. 3rd).
    The sources that we have read in Horrox show a range of different responses to the Black Death. It is easy to dismiss many of these responses as dated, bizarre, discriminatory, or unscientific. However, at the same time, these documents offer us a valuable window into medieval society, and in their responses to the plague, we often find kernels of logic and good sense. Draw on at least three sources and no more than six (those you have already read for assignments 1 & 3, or others from the provided texts). Your tasks are to write an essay that discusses how these primary sources inform modern readers about the Middle Ages. What can these documents tell us about ideas, beliefs, responses, and/or understandings related to the plague during that time? You may use one of the questions you developed for the Black Death reading assignment #3, but you can also develop a new one.
    Develop a thesis (an answer to your question), construct an outline, marshal your evidence from the sources, and write your essay.
    You may wish to choose three (or more) very different sources and discuss how they refer to a common theme, or you could choose three related sources and discuss how they differ due to their format, author, region or chronology. You might find that the more lengthy texts are better for this assignment.
  2. On a separate cover sheet, put down the following:
    a) Your name, the name of your tutorial leader, date, “HIST 2220 Black Death Essay” b) The final research question you have developed and are answering in your essay. c) A list of the three or more sources you have selected. d) The word count of the essay (do not count the words on the cover sheet or the footnotes).
  3. For the essay itself, use a 12-point font (Times New Roman or similar), 1-inch margins, and double spacing. Number the pages. The essay must be between 1200-1500 words (excluding footnotes).
  4. Your essay will be evaluated on the following criteria:
    a) The strength of the research question and the relevance of the sources chosen to that question. Is there a strong thesis statement that answers the question? (25 points) b) Analysis of primary sources. Does the student grasp the intent of each individual
    Primary source? Are the sources well mined for information relevant to the research question? (20 points) c) Organization of the essay. Is the essay constructed to answer the question using evidence from the primary sources? Does the organization make sense? (10 points) d) Writing quality. Are there grammatical or spelling mistakes in the essay? Is the writing clear and concise? (20 points) e) Citation. Are quotations from the sources properly cited? You should use the Chicago style footnotes. (10 points) (SPARK tip sheet here: f) Word count and formatting. Does the essay meet the 1200-1500 word count? Is there any “fluff” or irrelevant material in the essay? Are the formatting guidelines followed? (15 points)

Sample Solution