Re: Ch. 4: Small Differences And Critical Junctures: The Weight of History
I decided to do a bit of research beyond WHF to fill in gaps in my knowledge and understanding of the consequences of the Black Death. The following facts and interpretations runs through the sites I visited.
The Black Death had a huge impact on on all areas of life including the political, economic, social, religious, arts and sciences. At least 75 million perished on three continents including millions in China where it originated and at least twenty million in Europe which represented one-third to one half the population. Florence, likely the richest city in Europe at the time, lost almost half its population, 40,000 out of a population of 90,000. Paris lost about a third of its population as did London. It would be 150 or well into the 1500's before the population of Europe would reach pre-plague levels.
The Black Death was a natural disaster of great magnitude throughout Europe but seemed to have had its greatest impact in England. The high death rate of the peasant population put the survivors in a much stronger bargaining position with the property class. Although laws were passed to try to maintain the stus quo with pre plague wages and taxes, the social and economic pressures were such that the serfs were able to ask for and get much higher wages. Many others left the land for the cities to work in the trades and factories. The economic structure was shifting rapidly away from the traditional land-based economy. In large measure as a result of the Black Death the feudal system disappeared in England over the following hundred and fifty years putting the country on a path to rapid industrialization and the rise of capitalism. The rest of Europe would maintain a feudal system for several more generations.