Medieval Europe: The Fall Of The Middle Ages

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The fourteenth century in Europe was a time of calamity and disorder for the medieval system. At this time, the cultured High Middle Ages had come to an end and the “crisis of the fourteenth century” was beginning. This ‘crisis’ included the multitude of factors which greatly contributed to the dissolution of the medieval way of life. Originating around Italy, various types of embroilment made their way across Europe, leading to unrest and changes in thinking. The ultimate fall of medieval society in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries was heavily influenced by conflicts created by the devastating famine and plague that swept Europe, the decline of the Christian papacy, and violence during and after the Hundred Years’ War. Starting in the …show more content…
The Hundred Years’ War between England and France spanned from 1337 to 1453, and was fought over the kingship of France. The fighting drew out for 116 years, which slowly drained England and France of money and resources. Although the English appeared to be winning the war, the peasant girl Joan of Arc turned the tables and revitalized the French spirit, allowing France to emerge from the Hundred Years’ War victorious. During this time many lives were lost, and innocent peasants were slain for no particular reason, becoming “veritable martyrs” as written by Jean Froissart in his account of the sack of Limoges. Later, with the introduction of new military technologies such as the longbow, privileged nobles lost their places as key fighters in the war. Additionally, multiple violent urban and rural uprisings ravaged their way across Europe. In France, the Jacquerie involved many outraged peasants who stormed the houses of the higher classes, killing and looting as they went. In England, the common folk were unsatisfied with their lives because after the advent of the plague, peasants were worked even harder than before to make up for the loss in labor. The English Peasants’ Revolt was the people’s response to unfair labor forced upon them by undeserving lords. John Ball, a priest in Kent, preached of injustice and a need for action to the townsfolk. Other revolts such as the urban Ciompi revolt occurred, further weakening the political fabric of medieval society and setting it up to

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