The paper presents a case-study: the reactions to the plague of 1478-80 by the population and of the Crown (Aragonese Kingdom of Naples), basing on archival sources (administrative letters sent by the Royal Chamber of the Sommaria, the institution that oversaw the collection of royal taxes, and the account-book of a Royal Officer). The reactions to the plague are interpreted with the conceptual tools of disaster studies, that is, with reference to the concept of disaster as a social event and to the notion of vulnerability of the local communities. The documents are studied within a broader time frame because they were produced by a long-lasting administration that displayed remarkable continuity in their procedures as well as the linguistic and textual forms of its deeds. As comparison with the epidemic of the seventeenth century demonstrates, the subjects of this institutional interplay remained the same for centuries, but its modalities and effects changed over time and space. The abandonment of populated areas was always considered the major dange. In both cases (15th and 17th plagues) the rural communities asked for tax reliefs through petitions, followed by the investigations of the Sommaria. The disaster seems to have been greater in the seventeenth century, when the administration did not know the territory as well as two centuries earlier, and was fully aware of it.

Survivors’ Voices: Coping with the Plague of 1479-1480 in Southern Italian Rural Communities

Senatore Francesco
2018

Abstract

The paper presents a case-study: the reactions to the plague of 1478-80 by the population and of the Crown (Aragonese Kingdom of Naples), basing on archival sources (administrative letters sent by the Royal Chamber of the Sommaria, the institution that oversaw the collection of royal taxes, and the account-book of a Royal Officer). The reactions to the plague are interpreted with the conceptual tools of disaster studies, that is, with reference to the concept of disaster as a social event and to the notion of vulnerability of the local communities. The documents are studied within a broader time frame because they were produced by a long-lasting administration that displayed remarkable continuity in their procedures as well as the linguistic and textual forms of its deeds. As comparison with the epidemic of the seventeenth century demonstrates, the subjects of this institutional interplay remained the same for centuries, but its modalities and effects changed over time and space. The abandonment of populated areas was always considered the major dange. In both cases (15th and 17th plagues) the rural communities asked for tax reliefs through petitions, followed by the investigations of the Sommaria. The disaster seems to have been greater in the seventeenth century, when the administration did not know the territory as well as two centuries earlier, and was fully aware of it.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11588/735064
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