Document 7 Last Testament of Marco Datini of Prato Italy June 1 1348

In the name of God.

Marco, son of the late Datino, of [the neighborhood] Porta Fuia, by the grace of Christ healthy in mind and body, wishing to arrange orally [for the disposition of] his goods, established this testament in this manner without having written it down [himself].

Firstly, he chose and willed that his body be buried within the church of San Francesco in Prato.

Likewise he left for [the sake of] his soul for the saying of masses, to the chapter of the church of Santo Stefano Maggiore, in the territory of Prato, 10 soldi. Likewise he left for his soul to the altar of the new chapel of the Belt of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which is located in the said church of Santo Stefano, 20 soldi. Likewise he left for his soul to the priest of the church of San Piero of Porta Fuia in Prato, for the saying of masses for his soul, 10 soldi. Likewise he left for his soul to the Confraternity of the Virgin Mary of the church of San Piero of Porta Fuia in Prato, 20 soldi. Likewise, he left for his soul to the convent of the Order of St. Francis of Prato, for the saying of masses, 20 soldi. Likewise he left for his soul to the Confraternity of the Virgin Mary of the said church of San Francesco, 10 soldi.

Likewise he left for his soul for the saying of masses to the convent of the brothers of San Domenico (Dominicans) of Prato, 10 soldi. Likewise he left for his soul to the convent of the brothers of Sant'Agostino (Augustinians) for the saying of masses, 10 soldi. Likewise he left to the brothers of the convent of Santa Maria of Carmel (Carmelites) of Prato for the saying of masses for his soul, 10 soldi. Likewise he left to the brothers of Santa Maria (Servites) of Prato, for the saying of masses for his soul, 10 soldi.

Likewise he left, for his soul, to the new altar of Saint Mary that is located in the church of Santa Anna across the Bisenzio [River], for adornment of the said altar, 10 soldi. Likewise he left for his soul to the Confraternity of St. John of Prato, 10 soldi. Likewise he left for his soul to the poor of the House of Dolce of Prato and to the house of Dolce itself, 20 soldi.

Likewise he said, ordered and willed and commanded that all of the above-written bequests are to be carried out in his behalf by his heirs, listed below, and by their guardians within three years computed from the day of his death. Likewise he left, ordered and willed that all of his goods be set aside for the restitution of evil gains or illicit dealings or retention [of funds] by this testator.

To all of his other property, both moveable and real, for rights and actions, present and future, he instituted as his heirs Francesco, Nofrio, Stefano and Vanna his children, and any sons or daughters, of either gender, born to his pregnant wife Donna Vermillia; and to each of them in equal shares. And should it happen that any one of his children {gap in text} die before reaching the age of eighteen years without [having] legitimate children born from a licit marriage, then and in that case the surviving wards will take the place of him who has thus died, as regards the trust, as is done with minors.

Likewise, he left Donna Vermillia, his wife, control (and) use of all his property as long as she lives chastely, honorably [and] with her said children, and {gap in text} if she will maintain and lead the life of a widow and preserve her honor and does not reclaim her dowry.

And if it should happen that all of his children and heirs mentioned above should die while minors, he (Marco) substituted for them, or for the last one to die, Angelo Datini, his brother and the son of the said Datino. Likewise, then and in the said case8 he left to the said Mona Vermillia his wife, his home and the use of the household of the testator himself with his place of business [legal description of its location]: including the bed, household goods and everything that is in the house itself, and place of business as long as she [Mona Vermillia] will live chastely and honorably and continue to live as a widow.

Likewise, then and in that case, he leaves for his soul and those of his kin 25 lire to the new chapel of the Belt of the Blessed Virgin Mary located in the church of Santo Stefano Maggiore, in the territory of Prato. Likewise, then and in that case, he leaves for his soul and [the souls] of his kin five lire to the operating fund of the church of San Pier Forelli in Porta Fuia, Prato. Likewise, then and in that case, he leaves for his soul and [the souls] of his kin five lire to the poor of the House of Dolce of Prato and to the House itself. Likewise he leaves, then and in the said case, for his soul and those of his kin to the poor of the Misericordia house in Porta Fuia in Prato and to the house itself five lire. Likewise, then and in that case, he leaves to Mona Caterina, wife of Bettino Bettini (and) his [Marco's] sister, each year twelve sacks of good and unadulterated grain. [This will continue] for as long as she should remain a widow and without her dowry, for the entire length of life of the same Caterina, as long as she should preserve her chaste widowhood and honorable life.

He constituted, bequeathed, and willed the guardians of his said children to be Barzalone di ser Guccio, Angelo di Datino, and Piero di Giunta, and Mona Vermillia of Porta Fuia in Prato, the wife of this present testator, releasing to them the necessity of putting together an inventory and of carrying out an account of the administration of their charges. . . .

All of these actions were taken in Prato at the house of the poor of the Misericordia in Porta Fuia in Prato. [List of 8 witnesses follows]

I, Rinaldo di Banduccio of Prato, by imperial authority judge and notary was summoned and was present for all the aforesaid things and wrote them publicly.

Source: Translation by the author of Enrico Bensa's edition of "Il Testamento di Marco Datini." Archivio Storico Pratese (April 1925): pp. 74-78.

The Black Death Shakes the Islamic World: The View from Damascus, Syria (1348)

This poem (translated into prose here) by the noted Muslim Syrian geographer Abu Hafs Umar ibn al-Wardi is in the form of a prayer to Allah (a saj). In a short space Ibn al-Wardi supplies an abundance of observations on major themes of the Black Death: the spread of the pestilence, its destruction of urban populations, symptoms such as the spitting of blood, the pious prayers to Allah, the rejection of miasma theory and medicinal remedies, the suffering believer as martyr, the many metaphors for pestilence, and the activities of those resigned to death. Unexpectedly, Ibn al-Wardi provides a positive view of human responses: reconciliations, repentance, manumissions that were prompted by the Black Death. Ibn al-Wardi died on March 18, 1349, apparently of the pestilence, shortly after completing this work. His poem was the only extensive description of the Plague in Syria contemporary with the initial outbreak, and was used by many later Arab historians.

DOCUMENT 8 "Risalah al-Naba' 'an al-Waba'": An Essay on the Report of the Pestilence (1348) Abu Hafs Umar ibn al-Wardi

God is my security in every adversity. My sufficiency is in God alone. Is not God sufficient protection for His servant? Oh God, pray for our master, Muhammad, and give him peace. Save us for his sake from the attacks of the plague and give us shelter.

The plague frightened and killed. It began in the land of darkness. Oh, what a visitor: it has been current for fifteen years. China was not preserved from it nor could the strongest fortress hinder it. The plague afflicted the Indians in India. It weighed upon the Sind. It seized with its hand and ensnared even the lands of the Uzbeks. How many backs did it break in what is Transoxiana! The plague increased and spread further. It attacked the Persians, extended its steps toward the land of the Khitai, and gnawed away at the Crimea. It pelted Rum with live coals and led the outrage to Cyprus and the islands. The plague destroyed mankind in Cairo. Its eye was cast upon Egypt, and behold, the people were wide awake. It stilled all movement in Alexandria. The plague did its work like a silkworm. It took from the tiraz factory its beauty and did to its workers what fate decreed. Oh Alexandria, this plague is like a lion which extends its arm to you. Have patience with the fate of the plague, which leaves of seventy men only seven.

Then, the plague turned to Upper Egypt. It, also, sent forth its storm to Barqah. Then it attacked Gaza, and it shook 'Asqalan severely. The plague oppressed Acre. The scourge came to Jerusalem and paid the zakat religious tax [with the souls of men]. It overtook those people who fled to the al-'Aqsa Mosque, which stands beside the Dome of the Rock. If the door of mercy had not been opened, the end of the world would have occurred in a moment. It then hastened its pace and attacked the entire maritime plain. The plague trapped Sidon and descended unex pectedly upon Beirut, cunningly. Next, it directed the shooting of its arrows to Damascus. There the plague sat like a king on a throne and swayed with power, killing daily one thousand or more and decimating the population. It destroyed mankind with its pustules. May God the Most High spare Damascus to pursue its own path and extinguish the plague's fires so that they do not come close to her fragrant orchards. Oh God, restore Damascus and protect her from insult. Its morale has been so lowered that people in the city sell themselves for a grain. The plague struck al-Mazzah and appeared in Barzah. The plague, then, came to Ba'labakk and compounded itself with the town as its name is compounded. It recited in Qara, "Halt, friends both! Let us weep." The plague cleansed al-Ghasulah. It eclipsed totally the sun of Shemsin and sprinkled its rain upon al Jubbah. In al Zabadani the city foamed with coffins, and the plague brought misfortune on Hims and left it with three. The plague domesticated itself in Hamah, and the banks of the river 'AsT became cold because of the plague's fever.

Oh Plague, Hamah is one of the best lands, one of the mightiest fortresses. Would that you had not breathed her air and poisoned her, kissing her and holding her in your embrace. The plague entered Ma 'arrah al-Nu'man and said to the city: "You are safe from me. Hamah is sufficient for your torture. I am satisfied with that." It saw the town of Ma'arrah, like an eye adorned with blackness, but its eyebrow decorated with oppression. What could the plague do in a country where every day its tyranny is a plague?

The plague and its poison spread to SarmTn. It reviled the Sunni and the Shi'i [Shi'ite]. It sharpened its spearheads for the Sunni and advanced like an army. The plague was spread in the land of the Shi'i with a ruinous effect. To Antioch the plague gave its share. Then, it left there quickly with a shyness like a man who has forgotten the memory of his beloved. Next, it said to Shayzar and to al-HaTrim: "Do not fear me. Before I come and after I go, you can easily disregard me because of your wretchedness. And the ruined places will recover from the time of the plague." Afterward, the plague humbled 'Azaz, and took from the people of al-BaTb its men of learning. It ravished Tel Bashar. The plague subjected Dhulul and went straight through the lowlands and the mountain. It uprooted many people from their homes.

Then, the plague sought Aleppo, but it did not succeed. By God's mercy the plague was the lightest oppression. I would not say that plants must grow from their seeds. The pestilence had triumphed and appeared in Aleppo. They said: it has made on mankind an attack. I called it a pestilence.

How amazingly does it pursue the people of each house! One of them spits blood, and everyone in the household is certain of death. It brings the entire family to their graves after two or three nights. I asked the Creator of mankind to dispel the plague when it struck. Whoever tasted his own blood was sure to die.

Oh God, it is acting by Your command. Lift this from us. It happens where You wish; keep the plague from us. Who will defend us against this horror other than You the Almighty? God is greater than the plague which has captured and entered like an army among the peaceful, even as a madman. Its spearheads are sharpened for every city, and I was amazed at the hated thing [i.e., the Plague] which lies on the sharpened points.

How many places has the plague entered? It swore not to leave the houses without its inhabitants. It searched them out with a lamp. The pestilence caused the people of Aleppo the same disturbance. It sent out its snake and crept along. It was named the "Plague of the Ansab." It was the sixth plague to strike in Islam. To me it is the death of which our Prophet warned, on him be the best prayers and peace. Aleppo— may God protect us from this disaster—is the land of toil. The plague became a serpent, an evil thing which kills her people with its spit.

Oh, if you could see the nobles of Aleppo studying their inscrutable books of medicine! They multiply its remedies by eating dried and sour foods. The buboes which disturb men's healthy lives are smeared with Armenian clay. Each man treated his humors and made life more comfortable. They perfumed their homes with ambergris and camphor, cypress, and sandal. They wore ruby rings and put onions, vinegar, and sardines together with the daily meal. They ate less broth and fruit but ate the citron and similar things. If you see many biers and their carriers and hear in every quarter of Aleppo the announcements of death and cries, you run from them and refuse to stay with them. In Aleppo the profits of the undertakers have greatly increased. Oh God, do not profit them. Those who sweat from carrying the coffins enjoy this plague-time. Oh God, do not let them sweat and enjoy this. They are happy and play. When they are called by a customer, they do not even go immediately. The Grey [Aleppo] became blackened in my eyes because of the anxiety and deceit. The sons of the coffins [the undertakers] are themselves about to follow death.

We ask God's forgiveness for our souls' bad inclination; the plague is surely part of His punishment. We take refuge from His wrath in His pleasure and from His chastisement in His restoring. They said: the air's corruption kills; I said: the love of corruption kills. How many sins and how many offenses does the crier call our attention to?. . . This plague is for the Muslims a martyrdom and a reward, and for the disbelievers a punishment and a rebuke. When the Muslim endures misfortune, then patience is his worship. It has been established by our Prophet, God bless him and give him peace, that the plague-stricken are martyrs. This noble tradition is true and assures martyrdom. And this secret should be pleasing to the true believer. If someone says it causes infection and destruction, say: God creates and recreates. If the liar disputes the matter of infection and tries to find an explanation, I say that the Prophet, on him be peace, said: who infected the first? If we acknowledge the plague's devastation of the people, it is the will of the Chosen Doer. So it happened again and again.

I take refuge in God from the yoke of the plague. Its high explosion has burst into all countries and was an examiner of astonishing things. Its sudden attacks perplex the people. The plague chases the screaming without pity and does not accept a treasure for ransom. Its engine is far-reaching. The plague enters into the house and swears it will not leave except with all of its inhabitants. "I have an order from the qadi [Islamic judge] to arrest all those in the house." Among the benefits of this order is the removal of one's hopes and the improvement of his earthly works. It awakens men from their indifference for the provisioning of their final journey. One man begs another to take care of his children, and one says goodbye to his neighbors. A third perfects his works, and another prepares his shroud. A fifth is reconciled with his enemies, and another treats his friends with kindness. One is very generous; another makes friends with those who have betrayed him. Another man puts aside his property; one frees his servants. One man changes his character while another mends his ways. For this plague has captured all people and is about to send its ultimate destruction. There is no protection today from it other than His mercy, praise be to God.

Nothing prevented us from running away from the plague except our devotion to the noble tradition. Come then, seek the aid of God Al mighty for raising the plague, for He is the best helper. Oh God, we call You better than anyone did before. We call You to raise from us the pestilence and plague. We do not take refuge in its removal other than with You. We do not depend on our good health against the plague but on You. We seek Your protection, Oh Lord of creation, from the blows of this stick. We ask for Your mercy which is wider than our sins even as they are the number of the sands and pebbles. We plead with You, by the most honored of the advocates, Muhammad, the Prophet of mercy, that You take away from us this distress. Protect us from the evil and the torture and preserve us. For You are our sole support; what a perfect trustee!

Source: Michael W. Dols, "Ibn al-Wardl's Risalah al-naba' can al-waba'," in Near Eastern Numismatics, Iconography, Epigraphy and History, ed. Dickran Kouymjian (Beirut: American University of Beirut, 1974), pp. 443-55.

Plague and the Corruption of Mankind: A Muslim's View from Syria (1390s)

Christians were not the only ones to note the decline in morals that accompanied the Plague and its effects; Muslims, too, claimed that humanity had declined from an earlier state of goodness. Disaster had not made people better; rather, it had made them both less humane and less religious. In this qasida, which was recorded in the Chronicle of Damascus by Muhammad ibn Sasra, an unnamed Arab poet laments that it would have been better to die of the Plague than live under the current shameless corruption and immorality. The Mamluk empire of Syria and Egypt had suffered from repeated blows of pestilence and political and economic disintegration that followed. Ibn Sasra introduced this piece by stating, "Men's occupations have ceased, the hearts of the rulers have become hardened, the rich have become haughty toward beggars, while the subjects perish and misfortunes increase."

DOCUMENT 9 Anonymous Poem in the Chronicle of Damascus, 1389—97 Recorded by Muhammad ibn Sasra

Say unto him who expects goodness from men, "Draw not near to them, lest you be miserable and distressed."

We are, by God, in an age of wonders, had we seen this in a dream, we would have been frightened.

In it, men have fallen into the worst state; it is fitting that one of them who has died be congratulated.

We have seen in this age wonders and things, at some of which we are amazed.

Among them there is no shame, no worship, and if you have survived to these [times] no quiet is yours.

By God, the effort of him who desires goodness of them was in vain, and he is disappointed in his opinion.

We have seen therein that the corrupt gain power and become high; it is fitting that we go mad.

We have reached the worst of times, so that we envy in them the one among us who has died.

We have seen what we had never seen, and heard what we had not heard.

He who died attained deliverance in death, while he who lives is tortured by anxieties.

Would that the times were reversed with their people, or that we were transformed in them!

People were formerly as pure as water, thus we observed them since we have lived.

They left us behind in a miserable state and went; would that we had not survived them!

For God was mindful of previous time, in which they were happy, and so were we.

Source: Muhammad ibn Sasra, Chronicle of Damascus, 1389-1397, vol. 2, ed. and trans. William M. Brinner (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1963), p. 218.

An Early Fifteenth-Century English Poetic Meditation on Death

The macabre literary and artistic theme of the living meeting the dead became commonplace during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. This anonymous poem, however, breaks new ground in confronting the living interloper with a talking corpse and the vermin that were feeding on it. At the top of the manuscript page on which this Middle English poem was written is the drawing of a transi tomb that may have inspired the poet. Funerary depictions of the human corpse decomposing and literally providing a meal for worms originated in France in the 1390s and were seen in England in the early 1400s. Aside from the reference to the debate, the opening epitaph in iambic pentameter might easily have been posted on an actual transi tomb. As in similar dual poetic/artistic treatments of the Danse Macabre or Meeting of the Living and Dead, the message is clear: repent and live life well now, or harbor no hopes beyond the wretchedness of the grave.

DOCUMENT 10 "Disputation Betwixt the Body and Worms" Anonymous

Epitaph

Pay heed to my figure shown here above And see how I, once finely dressed and gay, Now am become the food of worms and corruption, Both foul earth and stinking slime and clay. Therefore, attend to the debate written below And write it wisely in your noble heart That from it you may acquire some wisdom Regarding what you are and what you will be.

When you least expect it, death comes to conquer you While your grave is green, it is good to think on death.

A Disputation Between the Body and Worms

In a time a wide-spread death From various diseases, with the plague

Reigning heavily throughout the country, I was moved by my conscience to go on pilgrimage And I went on my way in thoughtful haste. One holy day in front of me I saw a church, Where I went to set my rosary to work.

It was standing alone in a pleasant field—

My intentions were to hear Mass

But that was said and done before I got there.

I found the door open and I soon went in.

I knelt down and began my prayers.

With humble deference I bowed down

Before one image with great devotion.

Beside me I saw a tomb or sepulcher

Nobly made, painted and carved

All around and newly planned

With the imprint of various coats of arms.

I was not hesitant to look on the epitaph,

In gilded copper with gold showing through,

Regarding a fine and noble figure of a woman

Well clothed in the latest fashion.

Lulled by looking at this for a long time

I fell into a slumber in such a way

That rapt and taken out of myself

I heard debating between this body and worms—

Strangely, with each one replying to the other

Like a dialogue it seemed.

Therefore, pay attention to this sampling.

The body speaks to the worms: "Worms, worms," this body said,

"Why do you act thus? What causes you to eat me thus?

By you my flesh is horribly decorated,

Which once was a figure noble and attractive,

Very pleasant and fragrant and sweet,

Best loved of all creatures

Called lady and sovereign, I assure you.

I was a lady of rare beauty

Descended of noble blood in a true line

From Eve and from proper beginnings well-endowed.

All hearts were glad to be in my presence— Men of honor and great nobility did I decline— And now in the earth, by mortal death do I come Among you worms; naked I am brought low.

The most unkind neighbors ever made are you,

Food for dinner and supper all too little,

Now arguing, now eating, you have searched me through,

With a completely insatiable and greedy appetite.

No rest—since always you suck and bite,

No hour or time of day do you abstain,

Always ready to do violence to me again.

When you first began to make your way into me

It seemed to me you had been fed in a thin pasture;

Now you grow fat and ugly, round as well as large,

For courtesy and gentleness, remove me from your care

And dwell and remain with someone else

Who may reward you with better provisions,

For I am almost wasted away, consumed and gone."

Worms speak to the body:

"Nay, nay! We will not yet depart from you

Not while one of your bones hangs with another,

'Til we have scoured and polished them

And made everything between them as clean as we can.

For our labor we ask to extract nothing,

Not riches of gold or silver, nor any other reward

But only for we worms to feed on you.

We cannot smell or taste you in any way,

The horrible rotting and stinking of your flesh,

Something hated by all other creatures,

Excepting by we wretched worms alone.

If we, like beasts, had the ability to smell or taste

Do you believe that we would openly touch your carrion?

Nay, believe me, we would avoid it for certain."

The body speaks to the worms:

"Indeed, you are discourteous to me,

Thus strongly to threaten and menace me,

And to leave me thus, as nothing but bare bones.

Now, where are you, oh knights? Come to this place!

And you worthy squires, both noble and lower born,

Who once offered me your service,

The pledge of your heart for all the days of your lives

Asking me to permit you to place your life in my counsel,

Come do me service and defend me now

From these huge horrible worms, ugly to see

Gnawing here on my flesh with great cruelty,

Now devouring and eating me, as you can see,

Me whom you once loved so completely.

Succor and defend my body now!"

The worms answer the body:

"What could they do? Let them come—

We have no dread of them, nor of their complaints,

For we have had to contend with the words

Of all the mighty ones who have passed away and gone

Before this time, having divided them up,

Emperors, kings, and conquerors, all

Lords both worldly and spiritual

All the nine worthies: Judas Maccabeus, Julius Caesar, Godfrey of Boulogne, Alexander, David, Hector, and Arthur, King Charles, Duke Joshua the captain, With all the Trojan knights most noble With fair Helen, beauteous of visage, Polyxene, Lucretia, Dido of Carthage.

These and others were also as fair as you Yet they dared not stir or move at all Once we had taken possession of them, For all venomous creatures are ordained To take part in this service— They are entirely set on siding with us To devour and destroy you utterly.

The cockatrice, the basilisk, and the dragon,

The lizard, the tortoise, the ringed snake,

The toad, the mole, and the scorpion,

The viper, the snake, and the adder,

The crapaud toad, the ant, and the canker-worm,

The spider, the maggot, the dark things of nature, The water leech and others not unlike them."

The body speaks to the worms:

"I can find no remedy to this in any way,

Neither succor nor release of any kind,

Except that in this situation I must follow their plan

To completely gnaw my flesh away and be bound to sorrow.

For they are deemed hateful to all living things.

What shall I do but let them have their way—

Chance has it I must remain, though they destroy me."

The worms answer the body:

"On the day you were born we sent our messengers;

To them we gave as our commandment,

A charge to follow that they not offend us,

Not to depart from you until you went to death.

It was our intent that they gnaw and annoy you

And later come with you into our realm,

Where they would have your flesh as their reward.

And since they obeyed our commandment You cannot in any way say no to this outcome. Some of them went to your womb and to your stomach, Others, lice and nits, were always in your hair, Worms in your hands, fleas in your bed—I told you With other venomous things of various types To be warned to make yourself ready for us."

The body answers the worms:

"Now I recognize your messengers well! They were

Those things which kept residence with me while I lived.

No longer will I dispute or debate this matter.

Rather I will endure your violence against me.

Do your will with me, in your benevolence.

Yet, in the Psalms, David says that all

Shall be obedient to man's call."

The worms answer the body:

"That power lasts while man has life—

In this wretched world only are they yours.

Now that your life is gone, you cannot strive against us.

You are but as the earth and as a thing gone to nothing. What I have told you was also said in preparation Of Lent coming, on Ash Wednesday, When the priest crosses everyone with ashes.

And with the blessing of ashes to have remembrance

Of what you are and whence you shall return to again,

For ashes you were before this moment

And ashes shall you certainly be again afterwards,

Be you lord, lady, or mighty sovereign,

To powder and dust in time shall you come.

Your interval is but til you leave this world."

The body speaks to the worms: "Alas, alas! Now I know full well That in my life I was ignorant and unwise, Ruled by a pride too great to associate with others, Led to be so by my abundant beauty. I have been too proud, too wanton, and too foolish, Taking great delight in worldly pleasures, Thinking no one worthy to be my peer.

And now am I become subject to worms, Bearing their proven messenger daily Spiders and lice, and other worms hospitably, Not knowing truly from whence they came. To this I absolutely can say nothing more. Instead I must arm myself with patient endurance, Abiding our Lord's will in all circumstances."

The worms answer the body:

"For this tolerance you will get no thanks from us,

For by your will have you lived ever as you wished.

With the desire of your noble heart, you should remember

Holy Scripture and behold there

That the beauty of women is said to be

But a vain thing and transitory.

Women who fear God shall be praised as holy."

The body speaks to the worms:

"Yes, it is now too late a time to complain,

As now, about my situation; instead I can only place myself

At the mercy of our Lord God, most sovereign;

This is truly what is best for me to do, And those still living have time to ready themselves, To remember in this same way as well, Thinking continually of the time to come.

What he shall be and also what he is:

Be it he or she, be they never so fair, beware

Of pride over their fellows, that they don't become

That which often brings men to suffering.

As statements in Scripture truly declare

It is good to avoid fleshly temptation

Made and performed by the fiend, our foe.

Of this complaint that I have spoken

Take no displeasure for yourself:

Let us be friends, despite this sudden outburst,

Neighbors and lovers as we were before.

Let us kiss and dwell together forever,

Til God wills that I shall rise again

On Doomsday before his high justice.

To be glorified with the body

And that I may be one of that number

Which will come into the bliss of heaven as a reward

By meditation on and by the means

Of our blessed Lord, our true patron,

Able to be there by his desire.

Amen, Amen, your mercy grant this instance."

Now speaks he who saw this vision: When I woke from a deep sleep, Or from a sleeping meditation, To a holy man of great renown I related this dream and strange vision, Who bade me put it into writing As near and truly as I could remember it, In as fine, well-shaped language as I could.

To give the readers something delectable And an admonition able to both stir and move, Man and woman to make themselves acceptable Unto our Lord, and to leave behind all desires For worldly things which will do them harm

And instead to call into mind

Our savior and bind ourselves to him. Amen.

Source: Translation by Margaret Monteverde of Karl Brunner's edition of "Dis-putacioun Betwyx the Body and Worms." Archiv für deutsche Studien der neueren Sprachen 167 (1935): pp. 30-35.

Finding Scapegoats: The Persecution and Slaughter of Jews (c. 1349)

Jews had long been involved in the economic life of European towns, often serving as money-lenders to whom local Christians went into debt. Fears of a Jewish role in the spread of the Plague were in the air from Spain to Germany. Supported by "confessions" and more or less official reports, they fueled existing resentments, and provided frightened folk, whether debtors or not, an excuse for eliminating local Jewish communities. The religious and civic officials, who are at first unwilling to see the area's Jews maltreated, for they "knew no evil of them," relented and gave the mob what they wanted. For the reader familiar with the story of Jesus' Passion, these men certainly played the part of Pontius Pilate. This short description characterizes this mixture of motives and describes the fate of Jews in this city on the Rhine and suggests the fate of many others.

Meditation for Everyday Living

Meditation for Everyday Living

Always wondered what meditation is all about but didn't knew who to ask? Here are some great information which will answer all of you questions on meditation. Do you want to improve your life? Are there areas of your life that just aren’t quite right? I felt the same way a few years ago. Although I had a good job and a nice family, there were parts of my life that definitely needed improvement.

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