The Plague’s Effect on Society During the 14th Century
During the fourteenth century, European society was highly influenced by religion especially by the Catholic Church. The Plague, or the Black Death, struck Europe over the course of the first three-quarters of the 14th century, marked a significant change, not only for the Catholic Church but also for society as a whole. It resulted in the death of half to two thirds of the population. It caused a widespread labor shortage, the Catholic Church’s credibility was severely damaged as it could not stop the plague, and new technology was developed to make up for the labor shortage. The Black Death led to a loss of credibility for the Catholic Church because they couldn’t stop the plague after they promised they could. Not even the Church could cure or accurately explain the reasons for plague outbreaks. One theory regarding the transmission of the disease was through the air and was referred to as miasma or ‘bad air’. After that attempted explanation, the ethos of the church was damaged even more. Other religious groups started to sprout up (such as Flagellants) because of the lack of faith in the church. Their common belief is that the plague was part of God’s wrath, caused by sins of mankind. The Flagellants traveled from town to town in an effort to mimic the sufferings of Jesus before he was crucified to explain the origin of the plague. Even with other religious groups, some people lost faith in religion and some people even alienated religion all together.
Because of the shortage of labor many changes occurred in the system of labor. Landowners and the rich were desperate for workers and as a result, the peasants or middle class demanded higher wages and because landowners needed workers they gave in to the demands. As a result the peasants became wealthier. The Landowners could also afford it because there were fewer workers to pay. Another change in the labor system was that labor became more mobile...
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