The Impact of the “Black Death” on the Medieval Ages
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The “Black Death” was the pandemic of the plague that occurred in the bubonic form and held in the middle of the fourteenth century in Europe, Asia and North Africa. The source of its origin was probably the natural focus in the Gobi desert. It spread from there as the result of the abrupt climate change in Eurasia that was caused by the small ice age. The first victims were China and India. Then, it came to Europe with the Mongol armies and trade caravans. The severe pandemic has demonstrated the complete helplessness of medieval medicine and religious institutions in the mutual fight against the plague. It resulted in the revival of the pagan cults and superstition, persecution of the potential distributors of the plague poison as well as a surge of religious fanaticism. The “Black Death” has a great impact on the population of the Medieval Ages. It left a huge mark on the history of Europe. It made the influence on the economy, psychology, culture, religion, literature, class structure and even the genetic composition of the population.
The most significant impact that the “Black Death” made in the Medieval Ages was the sharp decrease of the population in the world. “The plague struck, it was over 25 to 40 million people died in Europe alone. One out of every three people who contracted the disease died. In some cities, more than half of the people died” (Ollhoff, 5). In total, the “Black Death” killed at least 60 million people. Pandemic plague led to mass execution of Jews. Jews were blamed for the fact that they were the main distributors of the "Black Death" spreading. Burnings of Jews took place all over the Europe.
Another very important consequence of the “Black Death” became the widespread distribution in Western Europe the superstitions and teachings, which caused a serious damage to the Catholic Church and its influence. Europeans considered Pope as the main culprit of God's wrath and punishment, which broke out over the world. The growth of the negative attitudes toward the Catholic Church caused the fall of the Pope influence in the West European society. However, it is necessary to notice that during the “Black Death” churches and monasteries were fabulously enriched. In order to escape the death, people gave the last that they had. The “Black Death” changed the views of people about the religion.
Before the pandemic, Europeans used to live in Feudalism, when authority keep the poor people in hard conditions and allow to the wealth people increase their fortune. The pandemic was so unexpected that it changed the social structure. It was hard to maintain the feudal system due to the lack of labor. The effects of labor shortages have caused fundamental changes to its cost. The prices almost doubled. So, it caused the inflation because of the raise of prices and increase in the mortality. The end of the feudal system allowed peasants to be able to have their own land. It gave them the decent status and higher social standing. In 1381, there was a peasant revolt against King Richard. The wave of the revolts were completely changed the social structure (James).
There were significant changes in the art and literature. The picture of the mass death was reflected in many artworks. There were artworks that represented the afterlife and how it looked like. Many people who could write reflected the daily deaths in the literature. The “Black Death” was also reflected in the work of Boccaccio “The Decahedron” and in the work of Chaucer “The Canterbury Tales”. The focus in the artwork and literature was changed toward death. The death of so many people paved the way for the development of the Italian Renaissance.
Hence, the “Black Death” brought many changes in the Medieval Ages. The loss among the population was very severe, but it led to the changes that were not possible without it. It replaced the feudal system by the industrialized consumer population. It changed views in art and literature. It made people to see the church and religion from a new position. It was a tragic event in the history of the Europe, but it completely changed the social structure of the society.