The Black Death was the most significant crisis of the Late Middle Ages

Part One: Quotations (40 Points)

Identify and explain the historical significance of two of the quotations given below. Make sure to identify the larger source from which the quotation has been taken and indicate as applicable its title, author, time and place of composition, broader historical period, and genre (the type of source it is). Once you have identified the quotation, relate it to its historical period. What in particular does it tell you about the time and place in which it was written? What can we learn about European history before 1500 from this quotation? Be specific and base your analysis on evidence drawn from the quotation.

  1. I, Joan, Countess of Flanders and Hainault, wish it to be known to all both now and in the future, that I and my successors cannot and ought not to take any tax or payment from the fifty men who shall come to live at Courtrai, for as long as they remain here, to work in the woolen industry from this day on. But their heirs, after the decease of their parents, shall serve me just as my other burgesses do. Given at Courtrai, in the year of the Lord 1224, on the feast of St. Cecilia.
  2. At this time the commons had as their councilor a chaplain of evil disposition named Sir John Ball, which Sir John advised them to get rid of all the lords, and of the archbishops and bishops, and abbots, and priors, and most of the monks or canons, saying that there should be no bishop in England save one archbishop only, and that he himself would be that prelate, and they would have no monks or canons in religious houses save two, and that their possessions should be distributed among the laity.
  3. There are certain subjects in which, whilst a modest proficiency is on all accounts to be desired, a minute knowledge and excessive devotion seem to be a vain display. For instance, subtleties of Arithmetic and Geometry are not worthy to absorb a cultivated mind, and the same must be said of Astrology. You will be surprised to find me suggesting (though with much more hesitation) that the great and complex art of Rhetoric should be placed in the same category. My chief reason is the obvious one, that I have in view the cultivation most fitting to a woman. To her neither the intricacies of debate nor the oratorical artifices of action and delivery are of the least practical use, if indeed they are not positively unbecoming. Rhetoric in all its forms – public discussion, forensic argument, logical fence [sic], and the like – lie absolutely outside the province of women.

Part Two: Essay (60 Points)

Write an essay debating the strengths and weaknesses of one of the controversial historical interpretations given below. Your essay should bring together information from lecture, discussion, and the relevant primary sources read for the course.

Begin with a brief introduction (10 points) explaining in your own words the subject with which your essay will be dealing and the stand on the controversial historical interpretation you will be taking. For the body of the essay, devote about half of it to ideas and evidence that show the possible strengths of the statement you have chosen to write on (20 points); and about half of it to ideas and evidence that show the possible weaknesses of the statement (20 points). A strong essay is one that supports all the points you make by referring to specific information and to documents from the past. Conclude your essay by stating where you stand on the historical issue you have written about (10 points). Be sure to explain the reasoning that led you from the evidence to your particular stand.

  1. The Black Death was the most significant crisis of the Late Middle Ages (1300-1500).
  2. The Italian Renaissance marked a complete break with medieval art, literature, and thought.

Sample Solution