The Effects of the Plague on Fourteenth Century Europe and Medieval Man

2850 Words Dec 28th, 2005 12 Pages
The 14th century was an era of catastrophes. Some of them were man-made, such as the Hundred Years' War. However, there were two natural disasters either of which would have been enough to throw medieval Europe into real "Dark Ages". The Black Death that followed on the heels of the Great Famine caused millions of deaths, and together they subjected the population of medieval Europe to tremendous struggles, leading many people to challenge old institutions and doubt traditional values. These calamities altered the path of European development in many areas. In his essay called An Essay on the Principle of Population , the English political economist Thomas Malthus (1766-1834), stated that since production increased arithmetically …show more content…
The world was a less stable and gentle place than it had before the Great Famine. Compounding the devastating climate changes was the very long and destructive war between Europe's powerful monarchies, France and England. Known as the Hundred Years War, the conflict was generally responsible for the annihilation of the French countryside in the western third of that country. The war also caused organized crime in rural England. Marauding heavily armed soldiers slaughtered England's civilian population when they were not pillaging French villages for sustenance. The War also spilled into Spain and parts of Germany and Sicily. Consequently, hunger and violence haunted Europe just prior to the appearance of the Black Death of the late 1340s. The deterioration of the food supply due to bad weather and the war had weakened the resistance of Europeans to infectious diseases, and left the entire population poised for the virulent new catastrophe that was about to assault Europe and vastly exceed the already existing harsh conditions. The first recorded appearance of the plague in Europe was at Messina, Sicily in October of 1347. It arrived on trading ships that very likely came from the Black Sea, past Constantinople and through the Mediterranean. This was a fairly standard trade route that brought to European customers such items as silks and porcelain, which were carried overland to the Black Sea from as far away

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