In 1347, a plague of epic proportions attacked Medieval Europe and Asia, killing millions. This plague, caused by the bacteria Yersinia pestis carried on fleas and rats, was called the Black Death, and greatly contributed to the development of Europe. The changes to European society, though they were immediately negative, had their benefits. The corrupt church lost much of its power and control over the way people thought and acted. The years of experimenting with proposed cures greatly improved the limited medical knowledge of the time. The decrease in population lessened the workforce, but increased social mobility for peasants.
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Roughly one-third of Europe 's population was wiped out by the Black Death.During the outbreak of the plague, Europe was run through the feudal system. There was a set hierarchy and all the different levels provided something for each other. The lords and bishops advised the king and provided him with knights to fight his battles. They gave the knights protection and land, who in turn protected them and the peasants that lived on their land, who paid taxes and worked the land. The higher social classes heavily relied on the peasant population as their workforce. Because so many of the peasants died, there were less workers on the fields, therefore they became more independent. The peasantry started to demand better treatment and higher pay. Landowners had to offer free food, clothing, and good pay to get and keep employees. Peasants had to find new ways of getting money, and the lack of control the nobles had over them meant increased social mobility. They rigid structure of the feudal system was overthrown by the plague and the living standards of peasants were