The Social And Economic Impacts Of The Black Plague

1810 words - 7 pages

The Black Death is considered to be "the most severe epidemic in human history" that decimated Europe from 1347 to 1351 (Witowski). Not only did the Black Death depopulate Europe, but it also had long lasting social and economic effects as well. The social effects consisting of culture, morals, values, and social norms. The economic effects consisting of labor, payment, and the foundation of feudalism. However one would call it, the Bubonic plague, the resulting Pneumonic plague or the Pestilence, the disease scarred the social and pecuniary foundations of specifically the European Middle Ages and some of the impacts even carrying forth into further generations.
The depopulation that followed after the plague is said to be the most obvious impact from the plague. J.F. Heckler suggests that the absolute minimum amount of European dead would have been 20 million (Wheeler). To put in a more perspective manner, it is stated that "between a third and a half of the population of Europe" alone perished from the disease (Batchelor 290). Heavily populated and crammed places like cities were the perfect breeding grounds for the pestilence. To illustrate how cities were devastated by the plague "the population of Florence, Italy, was reduced from 110,000 to around 50,000" (Batchelor). The loss of life was so immense that church cemeteries were unable to bury all the dead, thus mass burials had to be performed in dug trenches in the ground (Hall 210). The plaque took many families and it was not uncommon for the pestilence to have swallowed it in its entirety. Hall also recorded that extended families in Italy even as large as seventy members all perished from the disease (210). No one was spared from its hold, no matter how highly-affiliated, honorable, or wealthy the person was. For example, fifty of the most noble families in Venice during 1348 were wiped out (Hall 210). Religious officials died in substantial amounts due to the Black Death causing. Hall recorded that in England over 25,000 priests and bishops were lost from the clergy (210-211). The Bubonic Plague was also known to leave ghost towns with no inhabitants or very little survivors in sight. Only five people survived in the town of Smolensk, Russia in 1386, and the islands of Cyprus and Iceland were supposedly entirely unpopulated after the Black Death (Hall 211). Even later when less devastating occurrences of the Black Death struck, the death counts were still immense. The amount of life lost was so great that "the world population as a whole did not recover to pre-plague levels until the 17th century" and "many of the ghost towns were not rediscovered until the rise of aerial photography after World War 1 ended in 1918" (Wheeler). The depopulation of Europe greatly affected other aspects of life in the dark ages in uncountable ways such as Europe's social customs.
The Black Plague and its devastating consequences also greatly affected culture with its art, literature,...

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