The Economic, Political, and Social Effects of the Black Death

Essay by BrantHigh School, 10th gradeA+, December 2002

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Imagine one half of the world's population by wiped out in a space of less than a ten years. You probably cannot imagine such an event occurring; it seems unreal. Yet, this very thing happened in the between the years 1347 and 1351 in Europe. This massive destruction of human life was known as the Black Death. This Black Death was an ecological disaster on a global scale. The effects of the plague on human and certain animal populations from East Asia to as far west as Greenland were catastrophic. All facets of society, from peasant to king were affected; no one was safe. All of society was affected; nothing would ever be the same. Thus, there were many economic, social, and political effects of the Black Death.

Before one can understand the effects of the Black Death, one must understand precisely what is and what it did.

The Black Death was the common name for what is now known today to be three different diseases. The first, and most common of these was Bubonic Plague. The Bubonic Plague lasts for approximately six days. The early symptoms include hemorrhaging and splotches on the skin. Later on, various neurological and psychological disorders can occur. Bubonic Plague is fatal fifty to sixty percent of the time. The other two forms of the Plague, Septicaemic and Pneumonic were both much more rare, but much deadly, killing ninety-five a hundred percent of the time.

The Black Death did not originate in Europe, however. It originated in Central Asia, far away from Europe. So how did it get to Europe, and why during the Late Middle Ages? Before the time of the Late Middle Ages, infrastructure was vastly underdeveloped. Thus, diseases spread by humans could not possibly spread far, as most...