Thursday, May 31, 2007

1535 to 1541

1535. Sir Thomas More is beheaded, July 6, at age 57 by order of England's Henry VIII for refusing to swear an oath of supremacy as required by last year's Act of Supremacy.

1535. Jacques Cartier sails up the St. Lawrence River to what will later be the site of Montreal.

1536. England's Henry VIII has his wife Anne Boleyn beheaded, May 19, on charges of adultery On May 20, he marries Ann's lady-in-waiting Jane Seymour, 27.

1536. English clergyman William Tyndale of bible fame is condemned for heresy and is strangled at the stake.

1536. Portugal installs the Inquisition.

1536. Friesland clergyman Menno Simons, 43, leaves the Roman communion January 12 after several years of questioning infant baptism and getting inconsistent answers to his questions from Martin Luther and other Protestant leaders. His followers will be called Monnonites.

1536. Henry VIII's queen Jane Seymour dies October 24 a few days after giving birth to a son who will become Edward VI in 1547.

Institutes of the Christian Religion. John Calvin. French. 1536. Religion. Reply to attacks on Protestantism. Guide to Scripture.

1537. Pope Paul III excommunicates Catholic slave traders.

1539. The poet Guru Nanak dies in Punjab at age 70 after establishing the tenets of the Sikh religion (Sikh is Punjabi for "disciple"), which is neither Hindu nor Muslim.

1540. England's Henry VIII marries Anne of Cleves, January 6, less than a week after meeting her and 14 days after saying openly that she had no looks, spoke no English and was "no better than a flanders mare." The marriage was arranged by Thomas Cromwell for political reasons. When Henry finds that he does not need the connection, he says that the marriage has not been consummated. Cromwell is sent to the Tower of London, his marriage to Anne is declared null and void, Henry marries Catherine Howard, 25, and Cromwell is beheaded on July 28.

1540. Spanish explorer Francisco Coronado, 20, arrives in the American Southwest with the first horses, mules, cattle, sheep and hogs ever seen in the region. His lieutenant Lopez de Cardenas discovers the Grand Canyon in November.

1540. Pope Paul III recognizes the Jesuit order founded in 1534. He will make the Jesuits his chief agents in spreading the Counter Reformation.

1541. Francisco Pizarro completes his conquest of Peru but he is assassinated June 26 at age 69 or 70.

1541. Hernando de Soto discovers the Mississippi River May 8.

1541. Jacques Cartier establishes a short-lived community at Quebec.

1541. John Calvin, 32, establishes a theocratic government that will make Geneva a focal point for the defense of Protestantism throughout Europe.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

1527 to 1534

1527. England's Henry VIII appeals to Rome for permission to divorce Catherine of Aragon so that he may marry his young mistress Anne Boleyn.

The Courtier. Baldassare Castiglione. Italian. 1528. Courtesy. Four books. Dialogues. The perfect courtier and court lady. The courtier is versatile, but nonchalant. His role is to guide princes in government.

1529. London has a severe epidemic of the sweating sickness and the disease spreads within 2 months to Hamburg, Lubeck, and Bremen, reaches Mecklenburg a month later (August), reaches Konigsberg and Danzig in September, and then strikes Gottingen.

1529. Protestantism gets its name, April 16, as followers of Martin Luther protest a ruling by the Diet of Speyer forbidding the teaching of Luther's ideas in Catholic states while letting Catholics teach in Lutheran states.

1529. Henry VIII removes Cardinal Wolsey as his lord chancellor, October 17, for failing to secure a papal annulment of his marriage; he replaces Wolsey with Thomas More.

1530. The Confession of Augsburg, read at the diet in that city, June 25, is a detailed explanation of Lutheranism designed to reconcile the Protestants with the Catholic Church. It has been prepared by Philipp Melancthon, 33. The diet is unmoved and orders the abolition of all innovations.

1531. The potato, discovered in the Andes by Spanish conquistador Jiminez de Quesada, 30, will provide Europe with a cheap source of food and thus spur population growth.

1531. An earthquake shatters Lisbon, January 26, killing 30,000.

1531. Atahualpa in Peru has his half brother Huascar put to death and becomes the Inca himself.

1532. The Inca Atahualpa visits the Spanish camp of Francisco Pizarro, who has ascended the Andes. Pizarro seizes the Inca, November 16, and holds him for ransom.

Gargantua and Pantagruel. Francois Rabelais. 1532/64. Satire. Renaissance thirst for erudition; development of all human faculties; human nature is fundamentally good. Satirizes religious, political, legal, and social institutions of 16th-century France.

1533. England's Henry VIII secretly marries Anne Boleyn, 26.

1533. The Peruvian Empire ends, August 29, with the strangulation of the last Inca, Atahualpa. He has been condemned to death, despite the payment of a huge ransom for his release. His death was the most infamous act of treachery committed by the Spanish conquistadors.

1533. The future Queen Elizabeth is born to Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn.

1534. French explorer Jacques Cartier, 43, sails into the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

1534. Henry VIII breaks with the Church of Rome which has voided the annulment of his marriage to Catherine and has excommunicated him. The Reformation is established in England by the Act of Supremacy which appoints the king and his successors "Protector and only Supreme Head of the Church and Clergy of England."

1534. England's Henry VIII will break up the nation's Catholic monasteries.

1534. The Society of Jesus is founded by Ignatius Loyola.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

1520 to 1526

1520. Ferdinand Magellan negotiates a stormy 38-day passage through the straits at the southernmost tip of South America. He sails into the South Sea and renames it the Pacific Ocean.

1520. German gunsmith August Kotter invents the rifle.

The Four P's. John Heywood. British. 1520. Interlude. Debate: Who can tell the biggest lie? The palmser asserts that he never saw a woman out of temper and wins the prize.

1521. The colossal Central American city of Tenochtitlan (Mexico City) falls to Hernando Cortez.

1521. Ferdinand Magellan discovers the Philippine Islands, but is killed in a skirmish with native warriors.

1521. "Here I stand," says Martin Luther before the Diet of Worms, April 18. He is ordered to recant; he refuses; the German princes back him in starting an evangelical movement that will bring turmoil to much of Europe.

1521. Frederick the Wise of Saxony protects Martin Luther as he translates the Bible in defiance of the Edict of Worms which prohibits all new doctrines.

1522. Martin Luther initiates public worship with the liturgy in German.

1522. Huldreich Zwingli condemns celibacy and Lenten fasting.

1523. Two followers of Martin Luther--Augustinian monks--are burnt alive at Brussels, July 1.

1523. Huldreich Zwingli at Zurich publishes his 67 Articles, January 19, attacking transubstantiation and the authority of the Pope.

1523. Mennonite religious views have their origin at Zurich where a small community leaves the state church to pursue a form of Christianity that emphasizes the sanctity of human life and of man's word, acknowledges no authority outside the Bible and the enlightened conscience, limits baptism to true believers, while recognizing a duty to obey civil laws.

1524. A Peasants' Rebellion breaks out in the southern German states as Anabaptist Thomas Muntzer, 34, claims to be an apocalyptic messenger of God who brings "not peace, but the sword." Advocating social as well as religious reform, he overthrows the town government of Muhlhausen and sets up a communistic theocracy. His peasant followers demand an end to serfdom, feudal dues and tithes. They battle Catholics, "heretical" books are burned in the marketplace at Mainz and an orgy of pillaging and slaughter ensues.

1525. The German Peasant Rebellion is quelled, May 14, as 5,000 are shot down and Muntzer's army is dispersed. Muntzer is beheaded, May 27. Some 150,000 peasants have been killed in the uprising.

1526. The Tyndale Bible is published in secret at Worms, an English translation of the New Testament by English linguist William Tyndale.

Monday, May 28, 2007

1510 to 1519

Anatomy by Leonardo contains drawing from life based on cadavers that he has somehow obtained and dissected, but he does not permit his work to be published.

A Lytell Geste of Robyn Hode. Anonymous. British. 1510. Poem. Robin Hood was born in 1160. Known for his courage and skill in archery. Generous and popular.

1511. Watches mentioned for the first time in print have hour hands but no minute hands.

1512. France's Louis XII imposes tax on converted Jews from Spanish states and Portugal.

1513. The Prince by Florentine public servant Niccolo Machiavelli, now 44, is an analysis of the means by which a man may rise to power.

1513. Florida is named by Ponce de Leon after Pascua Florida (the Easter season).

1513. Spanish explorer Vasco de Balboa sights the Pacific Ocean.

1513. Chartres Cathedral is completed 60 miles southwest of Paris after nearly 400 years of construction.

1514. Pope Leo X denounces the slave trade in a bull against slavery but the trade continues to grow.

1515. England's Henry VIII issues decrees designed to protect peasants from the results of land enclosure.

1515. Utopia (from Greek ou, "not," and topos, " a place" or "Nowhere") by Thomas More, 38, describes an imaginary island governed entirely by reason.

Epistolae Obscurorum Virorum (Letters of Unknown Men). Anonymous. German. 1515/17. Satire. Satire on Scholasticism.

Orlando Furioso (Roland Mad). Lodovico Ariosto. Italian. 1516. Epic poem. Charlemagne's paladins vs. various pagan knights.

1517. Florentine merchants granted a monopoly in the African slave trade.

1517. Spanish priest Bartolomeo de Las Casas, 43, protests enslavement of Indians in the New World.

1517. Reformation of the Catholic Church begins, October 31, at Wittenberg. Augustinian monk Martin Luther, 34, nails 95 theses to the door of the Wittenberg Cathedral and challenges the excesses and abuses of the Roman Church, notably the sale of indulgences.

The Ninety-Five Theses. Martin Luther. 1517. Religion. Condemns selling indulgences. After confession, absolution is dependent on the sinner's faith and divine grace, not upon the priest.

1519. Spanish adventurer Hernando Cortez, 34, sails from Cuba to conquer New Spain. He is helped by an Aztec legend that the bearded white god Quetzalcoatl will return. He takes Montezuma II prisoner, and, by year's end, is ruling the country through Montezuma.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

1500 to 1510

"Philip Sparrow." John Skelton. 1500. Poetry. Humorous elegy for a pet bird. "Philip" is the traditional name for sparrows, derived from the sound of the bird's chirp.

Everyman. Anonymous. British. 1500. Play/Allegory. Morality play. Everyman receives his summons from Death. Only Good Deeds will accompany him.

The Lisle Letters. Viscount Lisle. British. 1500-1550. Letters. Published in 1981. Vivid, comprehensive picture of political and domestic concerns of a high-ranking English family.

1501. Spanish settlers at Santo Domingo introduce African slaves into Hispaniola--the first importation of blacks to the New World.

1501. Amerigo Vespucci makes a second voyage to the New World. Vespucci's account will express his conviction that it is not part of Asia but indeed a New World.

1502. Castile expels the last of the Moors, who have been in the country since 711.

1502. Montezuma II ascends the throne of the Aztec Empire at Tenochtitlan at age 22.

1502. Amerigo Vespucci returns in September from a voyage to the New World. An account of this voyage will be the basis of the name "America."

1503. Christopher Columbus discovers Panama, November 2.

1503. Christopher Columbus observes rubber on his fourth voyage to the New World.

1503. England's Canterbury Cathedral is completed after 436 years of construction.

1504. Castile's Isabella dies, November 24, at age 53 after a 30-year reign in which she has financed the voyages of Columbus and persecuted non-Christians with the Inquisition.

1506. Lisbon has a riot in which between 2,000 and 4,000 converted Jews are slaughtered.

1506. Christopher Columbus dies in obscurity, May 21, at age 55.

1507. Cosmographiae Introductio by German geographer Martin Waldseemuller, 37, gives Amerigo Vespucci credit for discovering the New World and calls it America.

1508. England's Henry VII dies, April 22, at age 52. Succeeded by his athletic, well-educated son, who ascends the throne at age 17 as Henry VIII.

1508. Spanish conquistadors found a colony at Darien on the Isthmus of Panama.

Amadis de Gaula. Garci Rodriguez de Montalvo. Spanish. 1508. Romance. Amadis exemplifies the chivalric ideals of valor, purity and fidelity.

1510. A horizontal water wheel designed by Leonardo da Vinci pioneers the water turbine.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Notable Events, People and Literature, 1500 to 1599

Society: Notable Events and People, 1500 to 1599

Spain expels Moors/ Montezuma II/ Canterbury Cathedral/ Anti-Semitism/ America gets its name/ Henry VIII/ Spanish Conquistadors/ Florida and Ponce de Leon/ Balboa and the Pacific/ Luther and the Reformation/ Cortez/ Magellan/ Peasants' Rebellion in Germany/ The Tyndale Bible/ The potato/ Lisbon earthquake/ Pizzaro/ Cartier/ Jesuits/ Sir Thomas More/ Coronado/ Calvin/ The Inquisition/ Copernicus/ Bloody Mary/ Mary, Queen of Scots/ Elizabeth I/ Huguenots/ Anglican Church/ The Iroquois/ Virginia Colony/ The Spanish Armada/ Edict of Nantes/ Globe Theater.

Literature, 1500 to 1599

"Philip Sparrow." John Skelton. 1500.
Everyman. Anon. 1500.
The Lisle Letters. Viscount Lisle. 1500-1550.
Amadis de Gaula. Garci Rodriguez de Montalvo. 1508.
A Lytell Geste of Robyn Hode. anon. 1510.
Orlando Furioso (Roland Mad). Lodovico Ariosto. 1516.
The Ninety-Five Theses. Martin Luther. 1517.
The Four P's. John Heywood. 1520.
The Courtier. Baldassare Castiglione. 1528.
Gargantua and Pantagruel. Francois Rabelais. 1532/64.
Institutes of the Christian Religion. John Calvin. 1536.
Defense et illustration die la langue francaise. Joachim DuBellay. 1549.
Journey to the West. Wu Ch'eng-en. 1550?
Ralph Roister Doister. Nicholas Udall. 1553.
La vida de Lazarillo de Tormes. Anon. 1554.
Tottel's Miscellany. Richard Tottel. 1557.
The Mirror for Magistrates. Miscellaneous authors. 1559.
Heptameron. Margaret of Navarre. 1559.
Jerusalem Delivered. Torquato Tasso. 1559/75.
Gorboduc, or Ferrex and Porrex. Sackville and Norton. 1561.
The Ringing Island (Book V of Gargantua and Pantagruel). Francois Rabelais. 1562.
The Book of Martyrs. John Foxe. 1563.
Gammer Gurton's Needle. William Stevenson. 1566.
La Araucana. Alfonso de Ercilla y Zuniga. 1569/90.
The Schoolmaster. Roger Ascham. 1570.
The Lusiads. Luis de Comoes. 1572.
Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland. Raphael Holinshed. 1577.
The Shepeardes Calendar. Edmund Spenser. 1579.
An Apologie for Poetry. Sir Philip Sidney. 1580/83.
Astrophel and Stella. Sir Philip Sidney. 1580/84.
Essays. Michel de Montaigne. 1580/88.
Bradamante. Robert Garnier. 1582.
The Spanish Tragedy. Thomas Kyd. 1584/89.
Tamburlaine the Great. Christopher Marlowe. 1587.
The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus. Christopher Marlowe. 1588.
The Jew of Malta. Christopher Marlowe. 1589.
The Faithful Shepherd. Giambattista Guarini. 1590.
Henry VI: Parts I, II, III. Shakespeare. 1590/92.
The Faerie Queen. Edmund Spenser. 1590/96.
The Two Gentlemen of Verona. Shakespeare. 1592.
A Groatsworth of Wit Bought with a Million of Repentance. Robert Greene. 1592.
The Taming of the Shrew. Shakespeare. 1593.
The Phoenix Nest. R.S. 1593.
The Burning Babe. Robert Southwell. 1593.
A Midsummer Night's Dream. Shakespeare. 1594.
The Tragedy of King Richard III. Shakespeare. 1594.
The Comedy of Errors. Shakespeare. 1594.
Love's Labour's Lost. Shakespeare. 1594.
The Life and Death of King John. Shakespeare. 1595.
Epithalamion. Edmund Spenser. 1595.
The Merchant of Venice. Shakespeare. 1595.
The Tragedy of Richard II. Shakepeare. 1595.
Sir Thomas More. Anthony Monday. 1595.
Colin Clouts Come Home Againe. Edmund Spenser. 1595.
Romeo and Juliet. Shakespeare. 1596.
The Famous History of the Seven Champions of Christendom. Richard Johnson. 1596.
Henry IV: Part I. Shakespeare. 1597/98.
Henry IV: Part II. Shakespeare. 1597/98.
Titus Andronicus. Shakespeare. 1598.
Much Ado about Nothing. Shakespeare. 1598.
Edict of Nantes. Henry IV of France. 1598.
The Merry Wives of Windsor. Shakespeare. 1598.
The Life of King Henry V. Shakespeare. 1598/99.
Julius Caesar. Shakespeare. 1599.
Old Fortunatus. Thomas Dekker. 1599.
Crabbed Age and Youth. Anon. 1599.
As You Like It. Shakespeare. 1599/1600?

Monday, May 21, 2007

1493 to 1499

1493. A papal bull issued by Alexander VI, May 4, establishes a line of demarcation between Spanish discoveries and Portuguese. The Spanish are to have dominion over any lands they discover west of the line, the Portuguese over lands east of the line.

1495. Lithuania expels her Jews as does Krakow, but within 5 years Poland will be regarded as the safest place for Jews in all of Europe.

1496. England's Henry VII refuses to recognize Spanish and Portuguese claims under the papal bull of 1493.

1497. Florentine seaman Amerigo Vespucci, 46, advances the claim that he discovered the American mainland in 1491.

1497. The Florentine prior-dictator Savonarola celebrates the annual carnival with a "burning of the vanities" in the Piazza della Signoria. Masks related to carnival festivities, indecent books and pictures, and other items are burned, attracting crowds too large for the cathedral. The prior (Savonarola) attacks the alleged crimes of Pope Alexander VI and indignantly spurns the offer of a cardinal's hat, but the pope is determined to silence the daring friar and issues a bull excommunicating him.

1497. John Cabot reaches Labrador June 24 after a 35-day voyage. He explores what later will be called Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.

1498. Savonarola is burned at the stake for heresy, May 23, in Florence's Piazza della Signoria.

1499. Granada's Moors stage a massive revolt as the Spanish Inquisitor-General introduces forced conversion to Christianity on a wholesale basis.

1499. London has another epidemic of the Black Death. It will kill thousands in the next 2 years.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

1484 to 1492

1484. The tea ceremony has been introduced by Japan's Yoshimasa, a shogun who has encouraged painting and drama. The tea ceremony will remain for centuries a cherished part of Japanese culture.

1485. The Battle of Bosworth, August 22, ends England's Wars of the Roses that have continued since 1460. Henry, Earl of Richmond, 28, defeats Richard III, who falls in battle. Richard's crown is found hanging on a bush. the earl is crowned, October 30, as Henry VII, restores peace to the realm and will reign until 1509, inaugurating a 117-year Tudor dynasty.

1485. The "sweating sickness" cuts down the army of England's Henry VII. The mysterious malady closes down Oxford University for 6 weeks, spreads quickly to London, and within a week has killed thousands.

1486. Christopher Columbus submits his plan for a westward expedition to Ferdinand and Isabella and persuades them to sponsor him.

1487. Pope Innocent VIII names Tomas de Torquemada grand inquisitor, and Torquemada's Inquisition introduces measures of cruelty that will make his name infamous.

1487. The Star Chamber introduced by England's Henry VII gives defendants no right to know the names of their accusers. The king moves toward royal absolutism.

Orlando Innamorato (Roland in Love). Matteo Boiardo. 1487. Epic poem. Pagan princess Angelica sows discord in ranks of Charlemagne's paladins. Tries to render them helpless before the Saracens led by Agramante.

1489. Malleus Maleficarum by the inquisitors Kramer and Sprenger is a handbook on witch hunting that will be used to justify the burning and shackling of innocent midwives and countless mentally ill people.

"The Nut-Brown Maid." Anonymous. British. 1490? Poetry. Maid is wooed, won by a disguised knight who tells her of hardships if she marries him. She stands the test. He is revealed to be a rich earl's son.

Robin Hood's Adventures. Anonymous. British. 1490. Tales. Legendary "good" outlaw who protected and supported the poor while he stole from the rich.

1491. Girolamo Savonarola, 39, begins denouncing the corruption at Florence.

1492. Columbus weighs anchor Friday, August 3, with 52 men aboard his flagship Santa Maria, 18 aboard the Pinta and another 18 aboard the Nina. Land is sighted October 12. First known European landing in the Western Hemisphere since early in the 11th century. He disembarks in the Bahamas on an island he names San Salvador. Columbus lands in Cuba, October 28.

1492. A decree issued March 31 by Ferdinand and Isabella extends the Spanish Inquisition. It orders Granada's 150,000 Jews to sell up and leave the country by July 31 "for the honor and glory of God." Thousands pretend to accept the cross (they will be called Marranos), some 60,000 pay for the right to settle in Portugal, still others are welcomed by the Ottoman sultan Bajazet II. Ferdinand decrees November 23 that all property and assets left by the Jews belong to the Crown.

1492. Luis de Torres and Rodrigo de Jerez make the first known reference to smoking tobacco. Sent ashore in the New World by Columbus, they report seeing natives who "drank smoke," and Rodrigo will later be imprisoned by the Spanish Inquisition for his "devilish habit" of smoking.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

1475 to 1484

1475. The Recuyell (Collection) of the Historyes of Troye published at Bruges by English printer-translator-cloth dealer William Caxton, 53, is the first book to be printed in English.

1475. Concerning Honest Pleasure and Well-Being by Vatican librarian Platina is the world's first printed cookbook.

1477. Christopher Columbus visits England but is unable to obtain backing for his projected venture in quest of a new route to the Indies.

1477. Cricket is banned in England because it interferes with the compulsory practice of archery.

1478. Isabella of Castille launches an Inquisition against converted Jews who secretly practice their original faith, persecuting the so-called Marranos (the word originally meant pigs). The Inquisition will be broadened to include all "heretics," including Muslims.

1479. The Game and Playe of Chesse, first book to be printed from metal type in England, is published by William Caxton.

1480. Pestilence decimates the Mayan Empire in the Western Hemisphere.

"Reynard the Fox." Anonymous. Medieval. 1481. Fable. Cunning fox vs. physically powerful wolf. Sly wit usually wins.

1483. England's Edward IV dies, April 9, at age 40 after a tyrannical reign, in which he has multiplied his wealth by confiscating the estates of his enemies. On June 5, a quasi-legal Parliament declares Edward's marriage invalid and his sons illegitimate. His capable brother Richard, duke of Gloucester, is proclaimed king and begins a brief reign as Richard III. Richard's nephews (Edward's sons) are found smothered in the Tower of London, and it is widely believed that they were murdered on Richard's orders.

1483. The Spanish Dominican monk Tomas de Torquemada, 63, takes command of the Inquisition in all Spanish possessions at the request of Ferdinand and Isabella.

The Golden Legend. William Caxton. British. 1483. Compilation. Lives of the saints and other ecclesiastical commentaries. One of the most popular books published by Caxton.

Till Eulenspiegel. Anonymous. German. 1483/1515+. Stories. German peasant popular in legend as a player of pranks. Brutal tricks and practical jokes. Emphasizes tricks as revenge of a peasant upon townsmen who scorn him as inferior.

1484. Christopher Columbus asks Portugal's Joao II to back him in a westward voyage to the Indies, but Joao rejects the request.

1484. Pope Innocent VIII succeeds to the papacy and inveighs against witchcraft and sorcery. The bull Summis desiderantes issued December 5 initiates harsh measures against German "witches" and magicians. So-called witches are usually midwives detested by physicians for encroaching on their obstetrical practice.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

1456 to 1474

1456. The Gutenberg Bible, published at Mainz by local printer Johann Gutenberg, 56, is a Vulgate Bible that marks one of the earliest examples of printing from movable type in Europe. [Vulgate: Latin translation of the Bible made by Saint Jerome at the end of the 4th century. It is the Roman Catholic authorized version.]

1457. Scotland's Parliament forbids "futeball and golfe" because their popularity threatens the sport of archery which must be encouraged for reasons of national defense.

1460. England's deranged Henry VI is taken prisoner, July 10, by Yorkists wearing white roses who defeat the royal Lancastrians, wearing red roses. However, York's forces are defeated by an army raised in the north by Henry's wife, Margaret of Anjou.

Le Morte d'Arthur. Sir Thomas Malory. British. 1460. Tales. Prose rendition of the legends of King Arthur. Printed by William Caxton. Malory's purpose: to tell a good story. Some tales are not in the Arthurian tradition. The tone is nostalgic.

1461. Le Grand Testament by Francois Villon is a lyric poem of 173 stanzas containing many ballads. French authorities will banish Villon from Paris next year after arresting him for theft and brawling and then commuting his death sentence, but he will be quoted for centuries, especially for his line, "Where are the snows of yesteryear?"

1465. Yorkists capture England's Lancastrian king Henry VI and imprison him in the Tower of London.

1469. The Spanish crowns of Aragon and Castile join in alliance when Ferdinand of Aragon, 17, marries Isabella of Castille, 18.

Il Morgante Maggiore ("The Great Morgante"). Luigi Pulci. Italian. 1470. Poetry. Morgante, a giant, aids Charlemagne's paladin, Orlando.

1471. Henry VI is murdered in the Tower of London, May 21, possibly by Richard duke of Gloucester (the future Richard III).

1473. The Disposition Achilles signed by the elector of Brandenburg, Albrecht III, 59, legalizes the custom of primogeniture that has existed for centuries and helped motivate younger sons of Europe's nobility to join the crusades in quest of lands. Albrecht is known as Achilles, and his Dispositio makes the eldest surviving male in a family the heir to the power and fortune of his father.

1474. Genoese seaman Christopher Columbus, 23, begins discussing the possibility of a westward passage to Cathay (China). The young navigator uses projections made by German mathematicians and Italian mapmakers to revive the ancient Greek knowledge that the earth is round. Columbus has the advantages of the compass, invented in the 12th century, and of the more recently invented mariner's astrolabe by which a navigator can calculate the altitude of the sun, moon or stars above the horizon and thus determine his distance north or south of the equator.

Monday, May 14, 2007

1450 to 1455

The Arabian Nights' Entertainment (continued)
"Tale of the First Calender." When his father dies, a prince's right eye is pulled out by an evil vizier. He becomes a calender and tells his story.

"Tale of the Second Calender." Robbed, turned into an ape by an evil genius, he is disenchanted by a sultan's daughter who kills the evil genius, but who dies in the struggle. A spark from the conflict destroys the right eye of the calender. He is kicked out of the kingdom and tells his story.

"Tale of the Third Calender." A lodestone draws nails from his ship. The king meets ten princes, each with their right eye knocked out. Left in a castle, the king can visit any room but one. He succumbs to temptation and a horse flies him to Baghdad. With a whisk of its tail, the horse knocks out the king's right eye as it has done with the ten princes who were also guilty of curiosity.

"Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves." Ali Baba, a woodcutter, sees a band of robbers enter a secret cave by saying "open Sesame." He becomes rich. The robbers try to catch Ali Baba by hiding in jars. They are outwitted by his female slave Morgiana who kills them by pouring boiling oil into the jars where they are hiding. Ali Baba's brother tries to enter the cave, but forgets the magic words. He is locked inside. He says, "Open Wheat," etc. He is caught and killed.

"The Seven Voyages of Sinbad." First voyage: Island turns out to be a whale; fire wakes up the whale who dives under. Second voyage: Desert island. Valley of diamonds. Merchants use meat to stick to diamonds. Eagles swoop down and pick up the meat. The merchants scare the eagles who drop the meat. Sinbad escapes the same way, on a piece of meat carried away by an eagle. Third voyage: encounter with Cyclops. Fourth voyage: marries. Buried with her corpse. Loots the graves of diamonds belonging to the dead and returns home wealthy. Fifth voyage: Rocs sink ship with huge stones. On desert island, Sinbad throws stones at monkeys who throw coconuts in return. Encounters and kills the Old Man of the Sea, a seemingly harmless man who climbs onto Sinbad's shoulder and will not climb off. Sixth voyage: Visits the island of Serendip (Sri Lanka). Climbs to the top of the mountain where Adam was placed after being expelled from Paradise. Seventh voyage. Corsairs sell him into slavery. He shoots elephants and discovers a hill covered with tusks. He is set free.

"Magic Carpet." King Solomon's magic carpet. Green silk. Throne and all types of forces placed on it. A canopy of birds screened it from the sun. Traveled.

1453. The Hundred Years' War that has continued off and on since 1377 ends in France with the expulsion of the English from every place except Calais which England will retain for more than a century.

1453. England's Henry VI has his first episode of insanity.

1454. Some 28 musicians inside a huge pie perform at the Feast of the Pheasant for the duke of Burgundy. A Mother Goose rhyme about "four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie" will commemorate the event.

1455. England's Wars of the Roses erupt in a civil war that will continue until 1471 between the houses of York and Lancaster.

Friday, May 11, 2007

1423 to 1450

"Dick Whittington and His Cat." Anonymous. British. 1423? Legend. Poor boy contributes cat to ship; king of Morocco has mice trouble and cat eats mice. King pays tremendous sum for cat; owner becomes wealthy and Lord Mayor of London.

"Kingis Quair." King James I of Scotland. British. 1424. Poem. Written while prisoner in England; laments his fortune; celebrates Lady Jane Beaufort whom he married.

Imitation of Christ. Thomas A' Kempis. German. 1426. Religion. Explores inner life, value of contemplation; mystical tone; great influence on Christianity.

1429. Joan of Arc becomes the heroine of France and changes the course of history.

1430. Joan of Arc is taken prisoner, and is turned over to the English. No one makes any effort to save her.

1431. Joan of Arc is convicted of high treason against God and the Maid of Orleans is burned at the stake in the Old Market Square of Rouen, May 30.

1434. African slaves introduced into Portugal.

1438. The Inca dynasty that will rule Peru in the Western Hemisphere until 1553 is founded.

1441. African slaves are sold in the markets of Lisbon.

1446. Ireland's Blarney Castle is completed by Cormac McCarthy, Lord of Muskerry. Set in a turret below the battlements is a limestone rock that will be called the Blarney Stone that will be reputed to confer eloquence on anyone who hangs head downward to kiss it.

1450. Cade's Rebellion demands English governmental reforms and restoration of power to Richard, duke of York. Kentish rebel John (Jack) Cade rallies 30,000 small Kentish and Sussex landowners in May to protest oppressive taxation and corruption in the court of Henry VI. They defeat Henry's forces, June 18, at Sevenoaks, enter London, July 3. The rebels grow violent, exact forced contributions to their cause, are denied readmission to the city, are repulsed at London Bridge, and dispersed under amnesty. Cade is hunted down and killed, July 12.

1450. The English Nobility encloses more lands to raise sheep at the expense of the peasantry.

The Arabian Nights' Entertainment. Anonymous. Persian/Arab. 1450. Tales. Persian/Indian/Arabian tales. Scheherazade postpones her execution by telling her husband stories without revealing the climax until the following session. Includes Ali Baba; the Calendars; Magiic Carpet; Sinbad the Sailor.

"Tales of the Calendars." Begging order of dervishes founded in 13th century obliged to be perpetual wanderers.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

1400 to 1422

1400. Inca terraces in this century will turn steep slopes in the Andes of the Western Hemisphere into arable land. Soil and topsoil will be carried up from the valleys below.

The Second Shepherd's Play. Anonymous. British. 1400. Play. Setting is Jesus' nativity; sheep thief tries to claim that stolen sheep in the cradle is his wife's newborn baby.

1401 Tamerlane sacks Baghdad, slaughtering thousands.

1403. The doge of Venice imposes the world's first quarantine as a safeguard against the Black Death.

1405. Tamerlane dies suddenly at age 68 while planning a campaign against China. The Tatar emperor has conquered Persia, Mesopotamia, Afghanistan and much of India, but his empire quickly begins to dissolve.

1407. The Black Death kills thousands in London.

1410. A translation into Latin of the Geography by the 2nd-century Ptolemy revives the notion that the world is round.

1413. England's Henry IV dies at age 45 and is succeeded by his son, 25, who will reign as Henry V, raising England to the rank of a major European power.

1414. Cologne expels its Jews.

1415. The Battle of Agincourt, October 25, ends in defeat for the French at the hands of English archers.

1417. The Great Schism that has divided the Church since 1378 ends November 11.

1419. England's Henry V conquers all of Normandy except Mt. St. Michel by July.

1421. The Portuguese prince Henry the Navigator, 27, assembles Europe's leading pilots, mapmakers, astronomers, scholars, and instrument makers. They will pioneer a new science of navigation.

1421. The North Sea engulfs more than 70 Dutch villages. Upwards of 100,000 die.

1422. England's Henry V dies at age 35 on August 31. His 9-month-old son becomes Henry VI.

Paston Letters. British. 1422/1509. Letters. Letters to and from three generations of the Paston family in Norfolk, England.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

1400 to 1499: Notable Events, People and Literary Works

Society: Notable Events and People, 1400-1499

Incan terraces/ Quarantine/ Ptolemy: The world is round/ Henry V of England/ Henry the Navigator of Portugal/ Joan of Arc/ African slaves/ Cade's Rebellion/ Wars of the Roses/ Gutenberg's Bible/ Francois Villon/ Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castille/ Primogeniture/ Columbus/ William Caxton/ The Inquisition/ Japanese Tea Ceremony/ Richard III/ Henry VII/ Anti-Semitism/ Sweating sickness/ Witch hunts/ Savonarola/ Smoking/ Amerigo Vespucci.

Literature: 1400 - 1499

The Second Shepherd's Play. Anon. 1400.
Paston Letters. 1422/1509.
"Dick Whittington and His Cat." Anon. 1423?
"Kingis Quair." King James I of Scotland. 1424.
Imitation of Christ. Thomas A' Kempis. 1426.
The Arabian Nights' Entertainment. Anon. 1450.
"Tales of the Calendars"; "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves," etc.
Le Morte d' Arthur. Sir thomas Malory. 1460.
Il Morgante Maggiore ("The Great Morgante"). Luigi Pulci. 1470.
"Reynard the Fox." Anon. 1481.
The Golden Legend. William CAxton. 1483.
Till Eulenspiegel. Anon. 1483/1515 or later.
Orlando Innamorato (Roland in Love). Matteo Boiardo. 1487.
"The Nut-Brown Maid." Anon. 1490?
The Adventures of Robin Hood. Anon. 1490.

Monday, May 7, 2007

1387 to 1400

Canterbury Tales. Continued.

"Tale of the Melibee": Forgives his enemies who beat his wife and killed his daughter.

"Monk's Tale": The falls of illustrious men; examples of reverses of fortune from the Bible, myth and history.

"Nun's Priest's Tale": Chaunticleer persuades fox to open his mouth to taunt his pursuers and escapes.

"Second Nun's Tale": St. Cecilia, struck in the neck three times in her bath, continues to preach and convert for three days before dying.

"Canon's Yeoman's Tale": Canon, an alchemist, dupes a priest who helps him in converting quicksilver and copper to silver; he then disappears.

"Manciple's Tale": The white, sweet-singing crow tells his master of his wife's infidelity; the master turns the white crow black and raucous.

"Parson's Tale": Last tale. Long prose sermon on penitence; exposition of the seven deadly sins; ends with Chaucer's retraction.

1388. The first complete English translation of the Bible is completed by John Purcey on the basis of work begun by the late John Wycliffe in an effort to reach the people directly with a bible they can read for themselves.

1391. Seville has a pogrom in June that spreads throughout Andalusia as Spaniards seek scapegoats for the Black Death. Castilian sailors set fire to the Barcelona ghetto, August 5, and for four days a mob rages out of control, killing hundreds. Many Spanish Jews will accept conversion in the next few years.

1392. Playing cards, designed by French court painter Jacques Gringonneur, will be employed for centuries to come in various games. The 52 cards are divided into four suits, each representing one of the four classes of French society: spades stand for pikemen or soldiery, clubs for farmers and husbandmen, diamonds evoke the diamond-shaped hats worn by artisans, and hearts represent the clergy, the word coeur evolving from the word chorus meaning the clergy.

1393. Baghdad falls to Tamerlane, whose Tatar horsemen overrun Mesopotamia.

1397. Parliament demands that England's Richard II submit a financial accounting.

1398. England's Richard II moves the country toward totalitarian government.

1398. Tamerlane leads his Tatar hordes through the passes into northern India after having conquered Persia, Mesopotamia and Afghanistan. He massacres 100,000 Hindu prisoners at Delhi, December 12, sacks Delhi, December 17, and moves on.

1398. Merchant Richard Whittington is made lord mayor of London.

1399. John of Gaunt dies at 59. Richard II confiscates his Lancaster estates, and John's son Henry of Bolingbroke returns from exile, landing at Ravenspur in July while Richard is in Ireland. When Rchard returns, he is defeated and captured by Bolingbroke and deposed by Parliament, which acclaims the usurper Bolingbroke king. He will reign until 1461 as Henry IV, founding the house of Lancaster. Richard is imprisoned in the Tower of London, In February of 1400, Richard II dies in the Tower, possibly at the hands of a murderer, but more probably of illness in the cold, damp tower.

1399. London's population reaches 50,000.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

1387 to 1400 The Canterbury Tales

The Canterbury Tales
"Knight's Tale": Palamon, Arcite and Emily. Arcite wins battle, but dies, leaving Palamon to wed the lady.

"Miller's Tale": Nicholas convinces John, the miller, that the second flood is coming. He suspends three tubs from the ceiling. Alison offers her rump for Absolon to kiss. Absolon returns with a red-hot ppoker, scorches Nicholas's substitute rump. Nicholas yells for water. John thinks the flood has come, cuts loose his tub, which comes crashing to the ground.

"Reeve's Tale": Young scholars catch the miller cheating on their grain. They swive his wife and daughter and escape.

"Cook's Tale": Roger the Cook tells of Perkin, an apprentice too fond of dice and women. Unfinished.

"Man of Law's Tale": Constance represents the extreme degree of resignation. Evil mothers scheme against her. Finally, she is reunited with the king, her husband.

"Wife of Bath's Tale": What do women really want? Sovereignty over their husbands. Tale makes the point. Argues against virginity. Uses her life with five husbands as example of happy marriage if the wife has sovereignty. One of Arthur's knights ravishes a maid. Given a year to find out what women most desire. Hag offers answer if he will marry her. She offers haggishness and fidelity or beauty and cuckoldom. The knight lets her make the choice, thus giving her sovereignty. She becomes both beautiful and faithful.

"Friar's Tale": Friar and the Summoner. A true curse sends the Summoner to Hell.

"Summoner's Tale": Sick Thomas donates "gift" to be divided equally among the friars; discussion of how to divid the gift, a fart.

"Clerk's Tale": Patient Griselda. Marquis Walter marries, tests Griselda who submits to extremely harsh conditions. The Clerk's reply to the "Wife of Bath's Tale."

"Merchant's Tale": May, a young maiden, sports with a squire in a tree. Blind old husband January's sight is restored and he sees what is going on. May says she restored his sight by struggling with the man in a tree. January believes her.

"Squire's Tale": Medieval romance. Magical ring, brass horse, mirror, sword. Female falcon tells of desertion. Unfinished.

"Franklin's Tale": Dorigen, Averagus, Aurelius. Rash promise is forgiven.

"Physician's Tale": Judge lusts for Virginia. She accepts her father's decision to kill her. People revolt and the judge commits suicide.

"Pardoner's Tale": By stabbing and poison, three revelers find "Death" after plotting to kill each other for a pile of gold.

"Shipman's Tale": Monk borrows from miserly merchant and sleeps with the merchant's wife; he says he repaid wife who says she thought the money was a gift.

"Prioress's Tale": Christian boy singing hymn to Mary is slain by the Jews. Sings until his body is found and the murderers are hanged.

"Tale of Sir thopas": Parody of minstrel romances is interrupted by Host. Exemplary knight resolved to love no one but an elf-queen.

To be continued.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

1374 to 1387

1374. A dancing mania sweeps the Rhenish city of Aix-la-Chapelle in July and sends hordes of men and women into a pathological frenzy of dancing in the streets. The dancing continues for hours until the crowds are too exhausted or too injured to continue; the phenomenon will never be fully explained.

The Bruce. John Barbour. Scotland. 1375. Epic poem. Deeds of Robert Bruce, James Douglas, and the struggle for Scottish independence.

1377. Richard II becomes king of England.

1377. The Babylonian Exile of the Papacy that began in 1306 has ended January 17.

1378. A Great Schism that will divide the Catholic Church for 39 years begins as a pope reigns in Rome and an antipope reigns in Avignon.

Speculum Meditantis. John Gower. British. 1378. Poetry. Contest for men's souls between the seven vices and the seven virtues. "Mirror of Men" of all classes in contemporary life.

The House of Fame. Chaucer. British. 1379. Poetry. Unfinished dream. Capriciousness of Lady Fame. House of Rumor, Gossip; each retelling results in greater falsity.

1381. Wat Tyler's Rebellion creates anarchy in England as farm workers, artisans and city proletarians stage an uprising against the 1351 Statute of Laborers. Mobs sack palaces and castles, take hostages and choose Wat (Walter) Tyler as their leader in June. They converge on London. On June 13, they present a list of demands to Richard II, 14 years of age. He makes empty promises for the abolition of serfdom, restrictions on labor and trade and game laws, with ceiling on land rents and road tolls. The next day, Tyler is betrayed and killed.

1382. England repeals the reforms granted to Wat Tyler and reestablishes serfdom.

1382. The Black Death sweeps Europe. It will take an especially heavy toll in Ireland. By the end of the century it will have killed an estimated 75 million people, leaving some areas completely depopulated.

The Parliament of Fowls. Chaucer. British. 1382. Poetry. Does the lovely lady eagle choose the tercel who loved her longest, the tercel who loved her more truly, or the royal eagle who had Nature's approval?

Vox Clamanti. John Gower. British. 1382/84. Latin poetry. Vivid description of Tyler's Rebellion of 1381.

Troilus and Criseyde. Chaucer. British. 1385. Poetry. Chaucer's version has considerable individual characterization and humor.

The Legends of Good Women. Chaucer. British. 1386. Poetry. Stories about women who suffered and died because they were faithful in love while the men were treacherous.

The Canterbury Tales. Chaucer. British. 1387-1400. Tales. April pilgrimage to Becket's shrine. 30 pilgrims. Varying classes, occupations. Two stories going, two coming back. 24 tales completed with prologue. Style matches the teller; interaction of characters. Interludes.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

1351 to 1371

The Decameron. Boccaccio. Italian. 1351/53. Stories. The year of the Black Death. 1348. Seven ladies and three men escape from the city to the hills of Fiesole. Ten days of stories. 100 anecdotes, fabliaux, folk tales, fairy tales. Bernabo. Isabella. Calandrino. Titus. Gisipus. Griselda.

1352. The Black Death reaches Moscow and spreads eastward back to India and China.

1354. England resumes the Hundred Years' War after an interruption by the Black Death.

1356. The Battle of Poitiers, Sept. 19, ends in defeat for France's John II.

1361. The Black Death strikes again in England, France, and Poland, especially among children.

1362. English is made the language of pleading and judgment in England's courts of law, but legal French continues to be used for documents.

Piers Plowman. William Langland. British. 1362/87. Poetry. Langland was a contemporary of Chaucer. Alliterative. Piers, Peter/Jesus urges people to work toward salvation.

1366. Europeans commonly eat the main meal of the day at 9 o'clock in the morning.

The Golden Lotus. Anonymous. Chinese. 1368? Novel. Life and loves of Hsi-men Ch'ing and his six wives. Naturalism. Realistic. Explicit eroticism.

1369. Tamerlane (Timur the Lame, or Tamburlaine) makes himself master of Samarkand in Turkestan. A descendant of Genghis Khan, the lame leader will conquer much of the world.

The Book of the Duchess. Chaucer. British. 1369. Poetry. Elegy on the occasion of the death of Blanche, the first wife of John of Gaunt. Narrator reads Halcyon and Ceyx and then dreams. Black Knight laments that he met, married, lived in bliss, and lost in death the most perfect lady.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Pearl Poet. British. 1370. Poetry. Alliterative. Beheading game and temptation to adultery. Greatest single Arthurian legend in English. Green Knight challenges knights to lop off his head. Gawain accepts. In return, he must accept a return blow a year later. Stays at castle. Twice resists temptation from his host's wife. Fails to mention the green sash to his host. The host is, in reality, the Green Knight, who misses twice to represent the two times Gawain has resisted temptation. Third time, he is nicked on the neck. Gawain wears the green sash forever after to remind him of his moral lapse.

The Travels of Sir John Mandeville. French/English? 1371. Travel. Book of travels filled with fictitious marvels.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

1340 to 1351

Il Filocolo. Boccaccio. Italian. 1340? Romance. Travails of lovers Florio and Biancofiore. (French version was Flores and Blanchefleur.) Episodes and digressions, the most famous of which is the Thirteen Questions of Love.

Il Filostrato ("A Man Overwhelmed by Love," Troilus). Boccaccio. Italian. 1340? Romance. Troiolo, Criseida and Pandarus. When Criseida leaves Troiolo, he is stunned by grief. Source for Chaucer.

1343. Dialogues by William of Occam lays the foundations of the modern theory of independence of church and state.

1346. The Battle of Crecy, August 26, establishes England as a great military power, reorients English social values by its joint participation of yeomanry and aristocracy, and begins the end of an era of feudal cavalry that has dominated warfare since the barbarian invasions of the Roman Empire. France's Philip VI meets with disaster from the quick-shooting English archers and spearmen who make short work of the heavily armored knights who cannot remount once their horses go down.

1347. The Black Death reaches Cyprus, whence it will spread to Florence.

1348. The Black Death that will devastate Europe reaches Florence in April and spreads to France and England. French surgeon Guy de Chauliac writes: "So contagious was the disease especially that with blood spitting that no one could approach or even see a patient without taking the disease. The father did not visit the son nor the son the father. Charity was dead and hope abandoned."

1348. Jews are blamed for spreading the Black Death. The Jews are persecuted first at Chillon on Lake Geneva and then at Basel and Freiburg where all known Jews are herded into wooden buildings and burned alive. At Strasbourg more than 2,000 Jewish scapegoats are hanged on a scaffold erected at the Jewish burying ground.

1328. The Black Death will extinguish nearly two-thirds of the population in some parts of Europe.

1349. English landlords offer high wages to field hands, reapers and mowers spared by the Black Death.

1349. The Black Death kills from one-third to one-half the population of England.

1349. The Black Death reaches Scotland and Wales.

Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Anonymous. Chinese. 1350? Novel. Historical novel. Endless episodes and stratagems. Personalities of generals and kings.

1351. An English Statute of Laborers fixes wages at their 1346 levels.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

1300 to 1340

Guy of Warwick. Anonymous. British. 1300. Romance. Non-Arthurian hero. Adventures. Married. Adventures again. Hermit. Beggar. Reveals identity on deathbed.

1306. France arrests her Jews, strips them of their possessions and expels them.

1306. England whips and expels some 100,000 Jews who remained after expulsion order of 1290.

1306. A Londoner is tried and executed for burning coal in the city.

1309. The "Babylonian Exile" of the Papacy begins at Avignon.

1314. The Battle of Bannockburn, June 24, assures the independence of Scotland.

1314. St. Paul's Cathedral is completed at London.

1315. First public systematic dissection of a human body supervised by Italian surgeon Mondino de Luzzi.

1315. Disastrous famine strikes large parts of western Europe.

1317. France adopts the Salic Law to exclude women from succeeding to the throne.

1320. Paper will soon be made at Cologne, Nuremberg, Ratisbon and Augsburg. Perfected by the Chinese in AD 105, replaces the vellum that has given monasteries a monopoly on manuscripts and on written communication.

The Divine Comedy. Dante. Italian. 1321. Poetry. Actually a realistic picture and analysis of every aspect of earthly human life. Allegory of individual soul's progress toward God. Progress of political, social mankind toward peace on earth. Beatrice represents divine revelation. Compassionate evaluation of human nature; mystic vision of Absolute toward which it strives. The day is Good Friday in 1300. Virgil takes Dante through Hell. He ascends the mountain of Purgatory. Beatrice takes him through Paradise to God. Virgil is the incarnation of the highest knowledge attainable by the human mind unaided by God's revelation. Dante goes through Hell to free him of temptation of sin. The purpose of his trip through Purgatory is to purify Dante's soul of even the capacity for error. The closer to God, the greater the bliss. Purified, Dante is able to gaze on the Trinity.

1324. Defensor Pacis is a juridical treatise against the temporal power of the pope.

1325. Mexico City has its beginnings in the city of Tenochititlan founded by Aztecs in Lake Texcoco.

1333. The Black Death begins in China as starvation weakens much of the population.

1337. A "Hundred Years' War" between England and France begins as Philip VI contests English claims to Normandy.

1340. Travelers on the road from China will return with rat-borne ticks or fleas that will bring the Black Death to Europe. The plague is called bubonic because of its characteristic bubo or enlarged lymph glands.