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Among the details given by Boccaccio of life in a plague city is his account of the disposal of the dead:

'Few there were whose bodies were attended to the church by more than ten or twelve neighbours, and those not the honourable or respected citizens but a sort of corpse-carrier drawn from the baser ranks, who called themselves becchini and performed such offices for hire; they would shoulder the bier and with hurried steps carry it, not to the church of the dead man's choice, but to that which was nearest at hand, with four or six priests in front and a candle or two, or perhaps none; nor did the priests distress themselves with too long and solemn a service, but with the aid of the becchini hastily consigned the corpse to the first tomb which they found unoccupied. Many died daily or nightly in the public streets; of many others, who died at home, the death was hardly observed by their neighbours, until the stench of their putrefying bodies carried the tidings; what with their corpses, and the corpses of others who died on every hand, the whole place was a sepulchre.'

Quoted Philip Ziegler The Black Death, Penguin 1970, page 48

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