The Economic, Political, and Social Effects of the Black Death

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Imagine one half of the world 's population by wiped out in a space of less than a ten years. You probably cannot imagine such an event occurring; it seems unreal. Yet, this very thing happened in the between the years 1347 and 1351 in Europe. This massive destruction of human life was known as the Black Death. This Black Death was an ecological disaster on a global scale. The effects of the plague on human and certain animal populations from East Asia to as far west as Greenland were catastrophic. All facets of society, from peasant to king were affected; no one was safe. All of society was affected; nothing would ever be the same. Thus, there were many economic, social, and political effects of the Black Death.

Before one can understand
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Towns, being crowded and infested by rats, were more susceptible to the plague than rural areas. Thus, people abandoned many towns for the safety of the countryside. This heavily stunted trade, as now towns were abandoned, and there was no central location for people to meet and trade.

Furthermore, there were many social effects as well. Middle Age culture became a culture of death and decay. Life became cheap. The stench of death became unavoidable when entering towns and cities. Everywhere there were the dead and the dying. Bodies were literally piled up outside in wheelbarrows, waiting to be dumped. The dead were not treated with respect or dignity. Fear was so great of infection that bodies were simply piled up and dumped in mass graves. People, ignorant of what was causing this terrible catastrophe, blamed those on the margins of society. Others questioned the Church. Why would God inflict such suffering? The Church had no answers, so people began to question it more and more. Some took matters into their own hands. Groups of people, known as flagellants began to go through towns and cities, wiping themselves to appease God. They believed that if they caused enough pain to themselves, then perhaps God would ease their suffering.

In addition, the new devaluing of life and questioning of the Church, the fabric that held society together society was ripped. The plague affected everyone from kings to peasants. Soldiers who
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