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How the Black Plague Affected England and Europe as a Whole

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How the Black Plague Affected England and Europe as a whole

The Black Plague reached England during the summer of 1348; it spread quickly from London, reaching the coast around the New Year. During the winter it changed from a bubonic to a pneumonic disease, meaning that instead of infecting the lymphatic system, it infected the respiratory system. This was woeful news for the people of England, because it meant the vast majority of those infected would have respiratory failure; the lungs stop working, for some, within the first 36 hours. This plague dramatically affected England's history making it what it is today. This is why I have chosen the topic of the Black Plague in England.

The most visible evidence of the black plague was the way it was expressed in many ways through art and literature. One example is the philosopher Petrarch, who wrote over one hundred letters, poems and a new literary form, romantic fiction, an interpretation of courtly love. Another example can be found in the paintings by Pieter Buegel the Elder, one piece, titled The Triumph of Death demonstrates that there is mass death and disease and people are dying left and right, Previously, art had depicted death as a glorious, beautiful thing with angels and halos, this new expression of death and ugly and painful reflects the environment surrounding them. Some experts say that some of the art formed in the middle ages was an exaggeration of what really happened. In reality, most of it wasn't people just dropping dead in the streets, but more along the lines of people becoming sick and being cared for in their households. In this time period, almost all of the households were affected. At the same time, the structure of cathedrals began to change. There was no lack of funding for these projects as many believed they could buy their way into heaven by contributing to the construction. They became as much monuments, to begin to signify the glory of their god above others as houses of worship. Builders became less concerned with making space available for a growing population, since it wasn't, and began to build higher and narrower structures. With fewer workers the style also became less ornate. Other advancements in architecture were happening throughout the continent. Lords and peasants had begun to separate themselves from the filth with rooms and walls. Previously it was common for the peasants and animals to sleep together in a big common room. Next some of the lords decided to make a second floor above the peasants and animals, an unheard of revolution.

The second way that the black plague affected Europe was within the economy. The Black Death caused Europe's peasants and farmers to have more reasonable wages, and have more bargaining power with the lords by whom they were employed. Essentially, before the black plague, lords could charge and pay what they pleased. They could do this because at that time there were many, many peasants and the population of Europe was rising fast. The continent was running out of space and to get piece of land or a job that would pay enough to support a family, one would accept almost anything. During and after the black plague, there were fewer peasants. The decreased supply of labor and constant demand, gave the peasant class more power to haggle with their lords. This also contributed to some of the lords not really liking how things were going, and trying to take the problem into their own hands. Some of the lords tried to make laws that prohibited higher wages for peasant work. Without saying, one can tell that this didn't go over very well, resulting in an uprising by the peasants. They were essentially telling the nobles to do their own farming if they wouldn't pay for what needed to be done. Eventually the king stepped in to calm the issue, making many promises to the working class. While the promises were not honored the ability of the peasants to bring the king to the table illustrates the growing power of the peasants and the crumbling of the feudal system.

The third leg of what the black plague changed, is religion. During the era of the black plague, we didn't have the science to learn that the plague was caused by germs or viruses or anything smaller than we could usually see. This on the other hand, didn't stop the people from coming up with an explanation for what was happening. Essentially, many people blamed the black plague on the Jews. They thought that the Jews deliberately created and spread the black plague, by poisoning the water supply as a last ditch attempt to destroy the Christian world. This resulted



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