Children during the Black Death
Document Based Question
by Susan Douglass
(Suggested writing time: 50 minutes)
Using the images and texts in the documents provided, write a well-organized essay of at least five paragraphs in response to the following question.
Describe and analyze the effect of the Black Death in 14th century Italy for its effect on families and children who became ill or who were survivors of parents and siblings who died, based on analysis of evidence in the documents.
- Did the social order break down completely during the panic produced by the epidemic?
- Were there social institutions that stabilized Italian society, and were efforts effective in preserving the social order and protecting its members?
- What additional evidence would help in deciding these questions (additional documents, types of records, etc.)?
Your essay should:
- have a clear thesis,
- use at least six of the documents to support your thesis,
- show analysis by grouping the documents into at least two groups,
- analyze the point of view of the documents, and
- recognize the limitation of the documents before you by suggesting an additional type of document or source to make your discussion more complete or valid.
How to Cite This Source
Shona Kelly Wray, "Children during the Black Death," in Children and Youth in History, Item #167, http://chnm.gmu.edu/cyh/case-studies/167 (accessed August 30, 2015).
- Primary Sources
- Decameron [Literary Excerpt]
- Italian accounts of the Black Death [Personal Accounts]
- Health Ordinances of Pistoia, 1348 [Legal Document]
- Testament of a Father during the Black Death [Will]
- Testament of a Mother during the Black Death [Will]
- Testament of an Elite Wife during the Black Death [Will]
- Testament of an Elite Husband during the Black Death [Will]
- Will-making among the general populace of Bologna during 1348 [Graph]
- The Dance of the Dead [Mural]
- The Dance of Death [Woodcut]