Please answer the following questions for this week’s primary source documents. Please use complete sentences to answer the questions. There are questions for each individual document and then two questions asking you to compare the documents.

Marchionne di Coppo Buonaiuti, Florentine Chronicle (c. 1370-80)

Marchionne di Coppo Buonaiuti (1336-1385) was born into a wealthy patrician family, probably bankers, in Florence. He was active in Florentine politics in the 1360s and 1370s, when he became a member of the city’s executive council and frequently represented Florence on diplomatic missions. His Florentine Chronicle, written after his retirement from politics, glorifies the history and accomplishments of his native city. Buonaiuti’s account of the effects of the Black Death on Florence was written three decades after the event. His description of the devastation caused by the pandemic draws perhaps on his own eyewitness observations – he was twelve at the time. It also draws on the inherited memory of the Black Death shared by his contemporaries and on literary accounts such as Boccaccio’s Decameron, completed in 1351.

Reading and Discussion Questions:

Many Christians attributed the Black Death to divine wrath and punishment. Does Buonaiuti seem to share this view?

According to Buonaiuti’s account, what were the economic consequences of plague in Florence?

In what ways did extensive mortality resulting from the Black Death affect the social order in Florence?

Emperor Hongwu, The Placard of the People’s Instructions (1398)

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In 1368, Zhu Yuanzhang, a general of peasant birth who had taken up arms against the Mongol Rulers of China, founded his new Ming (1368-1398), China’s new sovereign dedicated himself to reasserting Chinese culture by restoring Confucian values and traditions. But Hongwu also was deeply skeptical about the scholar-official elite who traditionally dominated Chinese government and society. Therefore, he created a system of village self-government that would protect ordinary people from abuses of power by imperial officials. Shortly before his death, Hongwu issued the “Placard of the People’s Instructions” in forty-one articles to set down rules that he hoped would preserve his principles of civil governance – and his dynasty – for all time.

Reading and Discussion Questions:

What are the chief responsibilities that the emperor delegated to village leaders, and what powers did he reserve for government officials?

In what ways was the emperor’s conception of village self-government modeled on the family institution?

What seem to have been the most common sources of dispute and social conflict in Chinese villages? Why might this have been the case?

Connect the Documents:

Compare the kinds of social crises and conflict in each document. And how does each author propose to “recover” order (if at all) in societies rocked by these kinds of upheavals?

What role does the state (if any) play in these crises? Are these weak or strong states? Do they speak to constituencies? What is the role between the individual and the state in these early modern societies?

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