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Faith, Reason, and the Plague in Seventeenth Century Tuscany

3.77  ·  Rating Details  ·  47 Ratings  ·  11 Reviews
By the late fall of 1630, the Black Plague had descended upon northern Italy. The prentice Magistry of Public Health, centered in Florence, took steps to contain and combat the scourge. In this essay, Carlo Cipolla recreates the daily struggle of plague-stricken Monte Lupo, a rustic Tuscan village, revealing in the vivid terms of actual events and personalities a central d ...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published June 17th 1981 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 1977)
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Leggere Cipolla e’ sempre rinfrescante. Con la sua solita arguzia, qui narra una delle microstorie cui ci ha abituati: il dissidio tra autorita’ civili e religiose in un piccolo paese toscano nel 1630, allo scoppiare di un’epidemia di peste. Il parroco di Monte Lupo organizza una processione “salvifica”, in spregio del divieto di adunanze emesso dal magistrato per evitare il contagio. Come sempre, Cipolla descrive con pochi tratti incisivi personaggi e mentalita’, con un linguaggio che ben si ar ...more
Oct 11, 2011 Eliszard rated it really liked it
Shelves: plague
In summer 1631, don Antonio Bontadi, the priest of Monte Lupo, stages a procession to beg for an end to the plague that is sweeping through the Tuscan countryside. The civilian authorities, backed by Father Giovanni Dragone (in charge of the pest house and of the health board of the village), want to stop it, or at least to prevent women and children from attending, to avoid a worsening of the epidemic. The processions goes ahead, but the civilian authorities want to see the priest and his accom ...more
Andrea Petrullo
Jun 28, 2007 Andrea Petrullo rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: students of medieval/early modern history, anyone who loves rowdy peasants and outbreaks of plague
Shelves: schoolreading
I'm of the opinion that there are few things in this world better than a good outbreak of plague. Carlo Cipolla's retelling of the plague's visits to the small town of Monte Lupo is actually surprisingly funny. Cipolla draws on primary sources such as correspondance and public records dating to the 14th century to piece togeather clues as to why public health measures in Monte Lupo went so horrible wrong. Sanitation and quarentine laws broken almost as soon as they were passed, and the town had ...more
Melissa Tamayo
Jul 20, 2014 Melissa Tamayo rated it liked it
I would've never read this for fun on my own, but I'm glad I was forced (class requirement) to do so. It is surprisingly very funny & informative; of course. The books tone is more narrative than your usual, typical dry & sometimes boring, textbook. It's about the plague, obviously, but what is the most interesting in the book (for me, at least..) are the peoples reactions, emotions & behavior during such a horrible epidemic in the small town of Monte Lupo. If you're a history buff, ...more
Oct 24, 2014 Dan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014
Microhistory in the style of Natalie Zemon Davis' The Return of Martin Guerre. I would assign it if I were teaching a class on disease history; the small example says a lot about the period. Cipolla is always a pleasure to read.
Louise Garner
Apr 05, 2015 Louise Garner rated it really liked it
Enjoyed it, although found it a bit short and "lite".
Stephanie Islas
Jan 26, 2015 Stephanie Islas rated it liked it
Loved reading about rowdy peasants. Read this book for a class, but I really enjoyed it!
Sam Ruddick
Aug 21, 2012 Sam Ruddick rated it really liked it
there are a couple slow moments but for the most part this is good story-telling, good history, and very funny. there's nothing funnier than unhappiness.

and it's short, too!

if it were fiction, i'd say it's a metaphor for the change that took place between the renaissance and the enlightenment. it's the transition between one phase of history and another, summarized surprisingly accurately in the form of an anecdote.
Terry Earley
Oct 21, 2012 Terry Earley rated it liked it
Though very interested in this period of history, I never would have read this short book unless recommended. Thanks Sam.

By taking a very small slice of time in an obscure Italian village, Cipolla was able with the available record, to give a very personal picture of actual people of the time dealing with very real problems. Their lives became then, very real to me.
Mar 22, 2008 Thomas rated it really liked it
subject matter also can be read about in The Plague (camus) and Narcissus and Goldmund (hesse); well-researched and explored subject.
Michelle Smith taylor
Apr 11, 2013 Michelle Smith taylor rated it it was ok
Interesting, however, not as indepth as I would have liked. Very superficial.
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Carlo M. Cipolla (August 15, 1922 – September 5, 2000) was an Italian economic historian. He was born in Pavia, where he got his academic degree in 1944.
As a young man, Cipolla wanted to teach history and philosophy in an Italian high school, and therefore enrolled at the political science faculty at Pavia University. Whilst a student there, thanks to professor Franco Borlandi, a specialist in Med
More about Carlo M. Cipolla...

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