Black Death

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The most immediate effect of the plague was that it led to higher wages for the poor. Prior to the Black Death, Europe was in a state of overpopulation, and famines were a frequent occurrence (Herlihy 39). After the arrival of the first outbreak of plague, however, Europe's population dropped somewhere between twenty-five and forty-five percent (Gottfried 77). Not only that, but, repeated occurrences of plague kept Europe's population lowered, and it did not regain its pre-plague levels until the mid-sixteenth century (Gottfried 134). That overwhelming loss of so many lives turned the situation around, and suddenly Europe was facing a labor shortage. That gave laborers an advantage over their employers. With the lack of workers able…show more content…
Even more striking is that of 672 new members from 1348 to 1368, only 222 had a familial relation to anyone in the trade (Herlihy 44). This is evidence that many more people were being trained in professional trades by the guilds, and that many of them were the first members of their families to receive any type of formal training in a craft. Again, the poor were able to benefit from the tragic events of the plague. Not only were they able to receive higher wages, but they were also able to move up into a higher social class, and reap the benefits that came along with that.

The plague also led to a higher standard of living. This was caused not only by the higher wages and upward mobility of the poor, but also by the low cost of food. With the reduced population of Europe, the food supply needed to feed less people, and prices dropped (Gottfried 98). The combined raise in wages and lower food costs meant that people had more money to spend and lived better than they ever had before. As an example, Robert S. Gottfried, a Professor of History at Rutgers University points out that an average person in Syria had a diet of around 1154 calories, which rose to 1930 calories by the middle of the fifteenth century (Gottfried 138). Another benefit of having more

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