Matteo Villani (Chronicler, Florence) d. 1363

Matteo Villani Demographics:
  • Name - Matteo Villani
  • Birth - Date unknown
  • Death - 1363 (from bubonic plague)
  • Burial - Vaults of Church of Sta. Croce. [Florence]
  • Marriage - Twice married.
  • Son - Filippo Villani
  • Brother - Giovanni Villani (first great chronicler of Florence)
  • Parents - of humble means.
  • Residence - Lived nearby the future residence of Michaelangelo.
Matteo Villani Important Facts:
  • Continued the work started by brother Giovanni Villani (who died of the plague, Black Death in 1348).
  • Matteo wrote 2 chapters about the effects of the plague in Cronica Universale.
  • His son Filippo Villani continued writing the Cronica Universale after his father's death.
  • He describes the confusion of the times about whether to live a temperate life or to enjoy life to the utmost (before Death knocked on the door).
  • According to Matteo Villani, three fifths (60%) of the population of Florence succumbed to the bubonic plague (Black Death) in 1348.

Matteo Villani's description of the Black Death in Florence (1348):

"God's Hand Was Unstrung" MATTEO VILLANI

Those few discreet folk who remained alive expected many things, all of which, by reasons of the corruption of sin, failed among mankind, whose minds followed marvellously in the contrary direction. They believed that those whom God's grace had saved from death, having beheld the destruction of their neighbors, and having heard the same tidings from all the nations of the world, would become better-conditioned, humble, virtuous, and Catholic; that they would guard themselves from iniquity and sins, and would be full of love and charity one towards another. But no sooner had the plague ceased than we saw the contrary; for, since men were few, and since, by hereditary succession, they abounded in earthly goods, they forgot the past as though it had never been, and gave themselves up to a more shameful and disordered life than they had led before. For, mouldering in ease, they dissolutely abandoned themselves to the sin of gluttony, with feasts and taverns and delight of delicate foods; and again to games of hazard and to unbridled lechery, inventing strange and unaccustomed fashions and indecent manners in their garments, and changing all their household stuff into new forms. And the common folk, both men and women, by reason of the abundance and superfluity that they found, would no longer labour at their accustomed trades, but demanded the dearest and most delicate foods for their sustenance; and they married at their will, while children and common women clad themselves in all the fair and costly garments of the ladies dead by that horrible death. Thus, almost the whole city, without any restraint whatsoever, rushed into disorderliness of life; and in other cities or provinces of the world things were the same or worse. Therefore, according to such tidings as we could hear, there was no part of the world wherein men restrained themselves to live in temperance, when once they had escaped from the fury of the Lord; for now they thought that. God's hand was unstrung .... Again, men dreamed of wealth and abundance in garments and in all other things . . . beyond meat and drink; yet, in fact, things turned out widely different; for most [luxury] commodities were more costly, by twice or more, than before the plague. And the price of labour, and the work of all trades and crafts, rose in disorderly fashion beyond the double. Lawsuits and disputes and quarrels and riots arose everywhere among citizens in every land, by reason of legacies and successions; the law-courts of our own city of Florence were long filled with such [cases], to our great expense and unwanted discomfort. Wars and . . . scandals arose throughout the world, contrary to men's expectation.
Matteo Villani Quotes:
“The common people, by reason of the abundance and superfluity that they found, would no longer work at their accustomed trades; they wanted the dearest and most delicate foods ….while children and common women clad themselves in all the fair and costly garments of the illustrious who had died”.

Villani also criticized survivors for their lack of gratitude to God for ending the terrible punishment he had inflicted on man. Rather than becoming more pious -
“the opposite happened. Men ….gave themselves over to the most disordered and sordid behaviour …. As they wallowed in idleness, their dissolution led them into the sin of gluttony, into banquets, taverns, delicate foods and gambling. They rushed headlong into lust”.

Posted by ALCHEssMIST.
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