Biological Warfare at the 1346 Siege of Caffa

Mark Wheelis

Disclosures

Emerging Infectious Diseases. 2002;8(9) 

In This Article

Gabriele de' Mussi

Gabriele de' Mussi, born circa 1280, practiced as a notary in the town of Piacenza, over the mountains just north of Genoa. Tononi summarizes the little we know of him.[3] His practice was active in the years 1300-1349. He is thought to have died in approximately 1356.

Although Henschel[2] thought de' Mussi was present at the siege of Caffa, Tononi asserts that the Piacenza archives contain deeds signed by de' Mussi spanning the period 1344 through the first half of 1346. While this does not rule out travel to Caffa in late 1346, textual evidence suggests that he did not. He does not claim to have witnessed any of the Asian events he describes and often uses a passive voice for descriptions. After describing the siege of Caffa, de'Mussi goes on to say, "Now it is time that we passed from east to west to discuss all the things which we ourselves have seen..."

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