Agnolo di Tura

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Agnolo di Tura (14th century) was a chronicler from Siena, Italy. He was also a shoemaker and tax collector. He married a woman named Nicoluccia, who was of a higher class than he was. Agnolo di Tura was determined to rise in the world (his wife kept reminding him of how much she gave up to be with a man of lower status). Together Agnolo di Tura and Nicoluccia had five children. During the time of the Black Death, Nicoluccia and all five children died. Agnolo di Tura writes of the event: "And I, Agnolo di Tura, called the Fat, buried my five children with my own hands". Agnolo di Tura survived the Black Death and remarried.

One of his writings is this, from Agnolo di Tura, of Siena:

"The mortality in Siena began in May. It was a cruel and horrible thing. . . . It seemed that almost everyone became stupefied seeing the pain. It is impossible for the human tongue to recount the awful truth. Indeed, one who did not see such horribleness can be called blessed. The victims died almost immediately. They would swell beneath the armpits and in the groin, and fall over while talking. Father abandoned child, wife husband, one brother another; for this illness seemed to strike through breath and sight. And so they died. None could be found to bury the dead for money or friendship. Members of a household brought their dead to a ditch as best they could, without priest, without divine offices. In many places in Siena great pits were dug and piled deep with the multitude of dead. And they died by the hundreds, both day and night, and all were thrown in those ditches and covered with earth. And as soon as those ditches were filled, more were dug. I, Agnolo di Tura . . . buried my five children with my own hands. . . . And so many died that all believed it was the end of the world."

Another one of his writings was this:

"All the citizens did little else except to carry dead bodies to be buried [...] At every church they dug deep pits down to the water-table; and thus those who were poor who died during the night were bundled up quickly and thrown into the pit. In the morning when a large number of bodies were found in the pit, they took some earth and shovelled it down on top of them; and later others were placed on top of them and then another layer of earth, just as one makes lasagne with layers of pasta and cheese".