Ron Olson
ECI 435
Narrative of the Year 1348
Dr. John Lee


“They died by the hundreds, both day and night, and all were thrown in ... ditches and covered with earth. And as soon as those ditches were filled, more were dug. And so many died that all believed it was the end of the world". —The Plague in Siena: An Italian Chronicle


The precise name of it does not matter; all that needs to be known about it is that it brings death...death like darkness covers the countryside. The year is 1348, and the month is August. It is warm outside, but the sunshine brings no warmth to the soul. Rumors had been heard about the Plague, but none could have adequately described its horror and savagery. All I see around me are people...family, friends, and strangers alike, coughing a terrible cough, moaning all through the night, writhing in the pain of their body sores, and then passing away as sound escapes them. It is an eerily quiet death that awaits the Plague’s victims, far too quiet for all the torment it causes. There are none who know what to do about this Great Pestilence; some claim it is the wrath of God exacting punishment on man, others say it is the Jews poisoning of the water, and still others maintain it is the true end of the world. The mood of my country England is bleak and morbid, and indeed all of Europe sees survival from day to day as a blessing. I myself should count my own blessings, as I have avoided catching the dreaded disease for several months now, and my wife, Annabel, was spared from death when she became infected back in June. God must find us favorable, because I know of no other such case where both husband and wife remain together, both alive. Annabel’s three siblings were not so fortunate, as they each have succumbed to the Plague. My dear beloved sister Moriah, my only sibling, was also taken by it. It would be easy to give up hope and roam around in despair and sorrow, but alas as a Church Clergyman I must remain resilient and reassuring, and calm in demeanor. The despondency around me is most disquieting though, and I must admit deep within my core I am starting to worry...worrying for myself and this world we exist in. But again, I am not in the position to fear like the rest. I must stay strong, for the Church demands it...it is a must they say! The Church itself is unsure of how to face this menace; do they preach God and salvation or confront the Plague and why it is prevailing so? It is quite the quandary, and I suspect they will keep face on the reality of sin and the savior of salvation. The townspeople are losing their grip however on reality, and their faith in the Church, and quite possibly the Lord himself, is diminishing with every new pile of bodies that builds day by day. My personal faith is helped by being involved with the Church, but I am sure that soon I will be beset by the Plague, and how I will fare I do not know...and it is a frightening thought to consider. My future, and maybe the future of all Europe, is in doubt at this moment. Who, or what will save us? Mankind has always persevered against threats from nature before, but this Plague seems so awful, so certain in its finality, that none are sure about the fate our existence now. Could it really be the end? I am disturbed to think that tomorrow will not bring an answer, but rather will bring more death and desolation. God help us all.