Black Death

     "The Black Death serves as a major turning point in the history of European
civilization." The arrival of both the bubonic and pneumonic plagues threw

Europe as a whole into an economic, social, and political tailspin. Europe was
already on its collective way down economically due to declining areas of
cultivation and the effects of prolonged warfare when, in 1347, the Black Death
set upon the Europeans. For the next 100 years, Europeans would have to adapt to
an extremely different and difficult lifestyle. The Plague cut through Europe
like a giant scythe. Toulouse and the rural areas surrounding Pistoia lost close
to two-thirds of their respective populations. Citizens began to seek isolation
from each other, trying desperately to avoid infection. Cities were abandoned by
their populations who were fleeing to the countryside. Farmers and other rural
inhabitants were forced to move because of the vast numbers of people moving
away from their cities and towns. With many dead and others not coming to work,
crops were not harvested and factories and plants were slowed. Thus prices for
everyday items skyrocketed. The Black Death severely accelerated and intensified

Europe’s depression. The Plague also contributed to many of the citizen
uprisings. Common people began to see that the rich and those in power were not
exempt from the rules of the Black Death. The Plague could and did attack the
papacy. When the common citizens realized the high class and the rulers were
dying and suffering just as they were, commoners started insurrections. Lay
people all over Europe saw that the rich were not much different from them as
they were told to believe. The church was also attacked due to the Black Death.

In Rome, the pope decided to move to Avignon because of the turmoil in Central

Italy. Many different factions and subcultures developed. Radical religious
leaders urged people to go their own way or seek isolation because man is good
in nature whereas the church had always preached man is born into sin. Eckhart,

Wyclif, and Hus all preached and taught beliefs that were not church sanctioned.

Politically Europe was in shambles. Countries fought each other while their
citizens fought themselves. France and England were engaged in the Hundred

Years’ War that was a series of battles that went on from 1337-1453. Germany
was in a state of anarchy from 1350 to 1450. The many independent princes of

Germany continually fought against each other. England was hit hard at home as
well. Of the nine kings that came to power between 1307 and 1485, five died at
the hands of conspirators or due to revolts. Also, England’s incompetent
government helped fan the flames of the War or the Roses between House of

Lancaster and the House of York. The Black Plague played a pivotal rule in
shaping Europe into its present day state. The Black Death was a setback but it
also served as a reminder and experience needed to show human drive and will to
live by our own means.