The Biggest Pandemics -The Black Death
The black death was one of the biggest pandemics that infected Europe and wiped out nearly 60% of the population, that’s about 25 million people, across a two year period. Africa along with Asia was also infected by this plague. This pandemic is commonly known as the bubonic plague. The Black Death had almost a 100% mortality rate it was very rare that someone survived. One of our happiest childhood hymns is a sad remembrance of one of the most devastating pandemics in human history. Some may even say that this dark part of our past changed history for the better. The way of life in the middle ages was affected by the black death in the ways of economy, religion, and socially.
The economy was the most affected after the passing of the black death. With almost one-third of the population gone, the working population went down drastically. “As people died, it becomes harder to find people to plow the fields, harvest crops, and produce other goods and services.” Since there were fewer workers in society after the black death many jobs were left unworked. With workers being in such high demand, many of them wanted higher wages and better conditions for the jobs they worked. Rulers did not agree with giving their workers higher wages since they worked for that much beofre the plague. “Within a year of the onset of plague, during 1349, an Ordinance of Labourers was issued and this became the Statute of Labourers in 1351.” Rulers at the time wanted to prevent giving out higher wages so they made laws to force workers to take the lower wages they were given before.
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This ultimately changed the relationship between the higher classes and serfs. Usually, the peasants were the ones in need for work at a lower advantage but not the higher classes were the ones in need if they wanted to keep their businesses going. “The vast majority of the population at the time of the Black Death was rural peasants who suffered the highest mortality and in so doing, became much more expensive and choosy about where they worked, and how they related to lords.” With the higher classes being in need, peasants were able to be a little more choosy about where they wanted to work. This made the higher class give into higher wages and better conditions knowing if they didn’t it would only be bad for them. Since most people after the plague had lost their family they came into an inheritance which was most times a lot of money. In addition to this, some were lucky enough to come into more things such as land, tools, and housing after their lord’s death. “No-one cared for wealth anymore which resulted in very small prices for everything” With a drastically smaller population, there became an overabundance of things which resulted in prices to fall in the economy. This resulted in peasants being able to afford higher-end items due to having extra money they would have never had before the plague. These are one of the upsides of the plague.
After the landlord’s had no other choice but to give into higher wages, this resulted in the manorial system coming to an end.