World History Essay: The Black Death
Certain events in the world's history are so cataclysmic, that the ramifications can still be felt to this day. In Europe's history, few events had such a profound historical impact as the Black Death, a horrible plague that raged across Europe in the fourteenth century. The Black Death caused the demise of between one third and three quarters of Europe's population between 1347and1350, but it had several positive and lasting impacts on European culture and society. These include decreasing the surplus population leading to a higher demand for peasants and the rise of capitalism, changing and improving the treatment and role of women in medieval society, and a boom in medieval artwork, and labour saving technology. The Black Death also helped develop human immunities, which continue to benefit us to this day. However, of all of these, the most profound might be the rise of peasants out of serfdom.
The thirteenth century lead to a great rise in Europe's population. In England and Wales, the population almost doubled.Ã¯Â¿Â½ This was brought on by an unusually warm and moist climate, which allowed bumper crops to be harvested. With a better diet, and mild winters, Europe thrived. However, by the second decade of the fourteenth century, a colder drier climate had set in. This period is known as the "Little Ice Age"Ã¯Â¿Â½ and was a time of famine for most of Europe. Although by itself the Little Ice Age did little to lower Europe's population, it starved and weakened it, and drove Europe's farmers to abandon their empty fields and crowd the cities, perfectly setting the stage for a deadly pandemic to strike.Ã¯Â¿Â½
Before the Black Death struck Europe, most peasants were confined in the "feudal system" which made them completely subject to their lord's...