Black Death: Natural and Human Disaster in Medieval Europe (World History Series)

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  1. The Black Death : Natural and Human Disaster in Medieval Europe
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  3. The Black Death: Natural and Human Disaster in Medieval Europe - Robert S. Gottfried - Google Книги
  4. Crisis of the Late Middle Ages

Some scholars contend that at the beginning of the 14th century, Europe had become overpopulated. The Medieval Warm Period ended sometime towards the end of the 13th century, bringing the " Little Ice Age " [17] and harsher winters with reduced harvests. In Northern Europe, new technological innovations such as the heavy plough and the three-field system were not as effective in clearing new fields for harvest as they were in the Mediterranean because the north had poor, clay-like soil.

The Black Death : Natural and Human Disaster in Medieval Europe

Wheat, oats, hay and consequently livestock, were all in short supply. Their scarcity resulted in malnutrition , which increases susceptibility to infections due to weakened immune systems. In the autumn of , heavy rains began to fall, which were the start of several years of cold and wet winters. In the years to a catastrophic famine , known as the Great Famine , struck much of North West Europe. Most governments instituted measures that prohibited exports of foodstuffs, condemned black market speculators , set price controls on grain and outlawed large-scale fishing.

At best, they proved mostly unenforceable and at worst they contributed to a continent-wide downward spiral. The hardest hit lands, like England, were unable to buy grain abroad: Any grain that could be shipped was eventually taken by pirates or looters to be sold on the black market.

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Meanwhile, many of the largest countries, most notably England and Scotland , had been at war, using up much of their treasury and exacerbating inflation. In , on the eve of the first wave of the Black Death , England and France went to war in what became known as the Hundred Years' War.


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The European economy entered a vicious circle in which hunger and chronic, low-level debilitating disease reduced the productivity of labourers, and so the grain output was reduced, causing grain prices to increase. Standards of living fell drastically, diets grew more limited, and Europeans as a whole experienced more health problems. When a typhoid epidemic emerged, many thousands died in populated urban centres, most significantly Ypres now in Belgium.

In a pestilence of unknown origin, sometimes identified as anthrax , targeted the animals of Europe, notably sheep and cattle, further reducing the food supply and income of the peasantry. As Europe moved out of the Medieval Warm Period and into the Little Ice Age, a decrease in temperature and a great number of devastating floods disrupted harvests and caused mass famine. The cold and the rain proved to be particularly disastrous from to in which poor weather interrupted the maturation of many grains and beans and flooding turned fields rocky and barren.

The Black Death: Natural and Human Disaster in Medieval Europe - Robert S. Gottfried - Google Книги

The wine production from the vineyards surrounding the Abbey of Saint-Arnould in France decreased as much as eighty percent by Famine and pestilence, exacerbated with the prevalence of war during this time, led to the death of an estimated ten to fifteen percent of Europe's population. The Black Death was a particularly devastating epidemic in Europe during this time, and is notable due to the number of people who succumbed to the disease within the few years the disease was active.

It was fatal to an estimated thirty to sixty percent of the population where the disease was present. This gap in plague activity during the Medieval Warm Period contributes to the hypothesis that climate conditions would have affected Europe's susceptibility to disease when the climate began to cool during the arrival of the Little Ice Age in the 13th century. Before the 14th century, popular uprisings were not unknown, for example, uprisings at a manor house against an unpleasant overlord, but they were local in scope.

This changed in the 14th and 15th centuries when new downward pressures on the poor resulted in mass movements and popular uprisings across Europe. To indicate how common and widespread these movements became, in Germany between and there were no less than sixty phases of militant peasant unrest.

The Holy Roman Empire was also in decline in the aftermath of the Great Interregnum — ; the Empire lost cohesion, and politically the separate dynasties of the various German states became more important than their common empire. Scholars such as David Herlihy and Michael Postan use the term Malthusian limit to express and explain some tragedies as resulting from overpopulation.

Crisis of the Late Middle Ages

In his Essay on the Principle of Population , Thomas Malthus asserted that eventually humans would reproduce so greatly that they would go beyond the limits of necessary resources; once they reach this point, catastrophe becomes inevitable. In his book, The Black Death and the Transformation of the West , professor David Herlihy explores this idea of plague as an inevitable crisis imposed on humanity to control the population and human resources. Bowsky he "implies that the Black Death 's pivotal role in late medieval society Arguing on the basis of a neo-Malthusian economics, revisionist historians recast the Black Death as a necessary and long overdue corrective to an overpopulated Europe.

Herlihy also examined the arguments against the Malthusian crisis, stating "if the Black Death was a response to excessive human numbers it should have arrived several decades earlier" [26] in consequence of the population growth of years before the outbreak of the Black Death. Herlihy also brings up other, biological factors that argue against the plague as a "reckoning" by arguing "the role of famines in affecting population movements is also problematic.

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Description A fascinating work of detective history, "The Black Death" traces the causes and far-reaching consequences of this infamous outbreak of plague that spread across the continent of Europe from to Drawing on sources as diverse as monastic manuscripts and dendrochronological studies which measure growth rings in trees , historian Robert S.

Gottfried demonstrates how a bacillus transmitted by rat fleas brought on an ecological reign of terror - killing one European in three, wiping out entire villages and towns, and rocking the foundation of medieval society and civilization. The Best Books of Check out the top books of the year on our page Best Books of Looking for beautiful books?

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