This is an opinion based question, but to me personally it depends on what I am looking forward to reading. If I feel like reading about historical events from Boccaccio then I’d read his account of the plague. If I feel like reading stories I’ll read his stories. Essentially I find both things interesting and gripping, it just really depends on what I would want to read that day or what I feel like reading.
His account of the plague is good to read, because Boccaccio informs us of all the things that happened when the plague hit. Things took a turning point in the Medieval civilization, there was a huge loss of control. Marriages were decreasing and things were in chaos in no time.
In Boccaccio’s stories, however, may be fictional, but it’s put onto more of the survivors of the plague’s point of view. These stories show their side of perspective of how things have changed and how much of things stayed the same. Most of the stories shared a similar theme of Fortune. Boccaccio describes fortune as something like a fate, something that neither beneficial nor of harm to you. Series of events in these stories were either good or bad by pure chance. It was good fortune that happened to some while for others it was a bad fortune.
For example, one of the stories of fortune was about an honest porter became a saint after death. Three strangers attended the funeral and one of them was a contortionist, but he pretended to be a cripple. He then pretended to be healed by the saint. Another stranger happened to recognized and he exposed the contortionist as a fraud. The locals were ready to kill him. The three told their story to a local lord, and the lord gave them tunics and then dismissed them. This fortune pertained bad weather.
If someone in the middle ages were to read these stories they would come to the conclusion of not highly unusual events. For us these stories are really valuable, because they show the perspective of the survivors thoughts about the Black Death. The account of the plague is also very valuable, because it shows real events of the plague and realistically results and outcomes of it.
Moral life fell into a state of disgrace amongst the people, and the clergy was no exception (according to Boccaccio). Hierarchies broke up, leaders/elders lost control, and families collapsed. The effects of the Plague had seemingly no pattern and no discrimination. People lost faith in God because these sanctions were so horrible and so erratic and could not be attributed to any system of ethics. People lived by the day and by the hour because they had no idea when they would die, but it would probably be soon. This event had a huge influence on Boccaccio’s stories, which personified Renaissance mentality in his written fictional stories.
Thanks for reading this essay. I hope you like some of my ideas and opinions on this topic. I will be posting more soon and have a great rest of your day!