Plague and Popular Revival: Ecclesiastical Authorities and the Bianchi Devotions in 1399

Lee, Alexandra R. A.. 2022. Plague and Popular Revival: Ecclesiastical Authorities and the Bianchi Devotions in 1399. Studies in Church History, 58, pp. 68-90. ISSN 0424-2084 [Article]

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Religious processions were commonly held during plague outbreaks in medieval Europe to provide succour against disease. The Bianchi of 1399, a popular religious revival, is one such example. This article addresses the Bianchi in Tuscany, demonstrating the crucial role of ecclesiastical authorities in moulding this response to plague, and contributing to both religious history and the history of medicine. It first problematizes the connection between the Bianchi and a punitive plague which could purportedly be remedied by religious devotions. The role of the clergy in the movement is then examined, demonstrating their prominence in preparing the populace, preaching and even leading processions. An assessment of Bianchi processional composition and routes reveals exploitation of pre-existing liturgical traditions. This localized, comparative analysis demonstrates how individual Tuscan towns organized and supported these devotional activities, successfully managing the popular response to plague expressed in the Bianchi devotions.

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8 June 2022Published Online
June 2022Published

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14 Sep 2022 08:31

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14 Sep 2022 08:31

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