Can America Benefit from Covid? Ask 14th-Century Florence

Jul 27, 2020 176

BY: Jacob Soll

The Covid pandemic has wreaked havoc on the U.S. economy. Around 33 million unemployment claims have been made, and hunger stalks millions more Americans—and that’s aside from the ravages from the disease itself. Yet big disruptions can bring big opportunities. Thinkers have already been considering how the world could emerge better, or smarter, from the Covid plague.

And there’s real historical precedent for this: The Italian Renaissance may have begun before the 14th-century plague known as the Black Death, but there’s a strong case the disease—in both its ravages and the social changes it enabled—helped accelerate its progress, especially in the city of Florence. For a time, Florence’s economy bounced back with remarkable social mobility, and it became Europe’s premier center of artistic, cultural and scientific creativity.

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