The Black Death

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The Black Death was caused by the Oriental Rat Flea in 1347 – 1350. Not only did it cause the death of many people but it also caused major problems in the economy of Europe. When large numbers of the working class died, the ones left who had skills became very valuable. Even more valuable than the rich people. The peasants and artisians demanded more pay and the people who usually tended the crops walked away from them, leaving behind wasted farmland (Cartwright, 1991).

Agricultural prices dropped significantly, making times hard for those who made their living on the land. Fewer people to work the lands meant fewer crops to sell and less money to be made. To make things worse, there were less people to do the work in the fields so they demanded higher wages, less work, and better living conditions. The better wages for the peasants, who were once “poor”, made things more equal between the “rich” and the “poor”(Knox, n.d.).

The death toll made it possible for the people who usually worked in low paying, hard working jobs to take on important positions in places where they would have never been allowed. There was a big demand for physicians and policemen as well as gravediggers and farm laborers.

Basically, the labor supply was very small and so the wages rose. The demand for laborers made the employers have to pay them more. The supply of goods rose because there were less customers to buy them, so the prices of goods decreased. Wages in England rose from twelve to twenty—eight percent from the 1340s to the 1350s and twenty to forty percent from the 1340s to the 1360s (Routt,2008)

The death of entire families made it impossible for many creditors to collect the bills that were due to them so many went out of business.

Cartwright,Frederick F. DISEASE AND HISTORY, Dorset Press, New York, 1991, p. 42. Knox Skip E.L. Boise State University “The Black Death” Routt, David. "The Economic Impact of the Black Death". EH.Net Encyclopedia,...
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