Black Plague and Great Famine: The Dark Ages of Europe

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833 words
Wesleyan University
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In everyday life of European citizens, the Black Plague remained to be persistent fear to them for over three centuries. The 14th century had been an era of catastrophe to Europe; some of them were natural while others were human-made. There were two or more natural disasters that could have been thought to throw Medieval Europe into Dark Ages that is the Great Famine as well as the Black Death. Millions of deaths were caused by each of the disasters, while each in its way exhibited the new vulnerabilities existence dramatically in Western European society. They together subjected the old Europe population to tremendous strains that resulted in many people to doubt traditional values and challenge old institutions; therefore, these calamities altered the European development path in many areas. Even though the Great Famine together with the Black Death resulted in much destruction like the death of European citizens, there was life after the end of the Black Death, and also movements such as The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio arose.

In Europe history, the medieval period lasted until the 15th century, and it began with the Western Roman Empire fall and merged in the Renaissance as well as the Age of Discovery. Thus, the Middle Ages refer to the middle period of the Western history traditional divisions; the medieval period, classical antiquity and the modern period and the medieval period is subdivided into the Early Middle Age, High Middle Age, and Late Middle Age. During the Middle Ages, the Black Death or plague killed many people with The Black Death happening between 1347 until 1400 killing around twenty-five million people by 1355. In the late 8th century the change in climatical degrees centigrade caused disastrous consequences in Europe like changes in the patterns of rainfall, shorten growing seasons, and diminishing agricultural productivity (Cole and Symes, Wester Civilization, 286).

The Black Death was the pandemic which devastated Europe between the year 1347 and 1351, taking a proportionately larger toll of people's lives than any other war or epidemic up to that time ever known. The Black Death is believed to have been the result of the Great Famine plague that was caused by bacterium Yersinia pestis infection. It had originated from China, and by 1346 the epidemic had reached the Black Sea and later on transmitted to Genoese colonists. Then, Genoese ships passed it to northern Italy and Sicily. From Italy, it was transferred to the westward, first hitting seaports, and turning the inland together with the travellers who brought it (Cole and Symes, Wester Civilization, 277-280). It spread with astonishing speed and advancing for approximately two miles in twenty-four hours, winter or summer. After the city was ravaged by the Black Death, a group seven young women who were unable to withstand the contagion within Florence gets an idea of getting out of the city as being the best solution to overcome their suffering (Boccaccio).

1953 was the year when the epidemic started to loosen its grip of death on Europe, and within a half century, the continent had already lost nearly fifty percent of its population owing to the combination of disease and feminine. Several lands in Paris had been turned to pasture, abandoned fields became woodland, and thus increased Europe forested area by around a third. Therefore, life after this plague of Black Death would radically dissimilar to those who survived since the massive depopulation impacted every existence aspect. For instance, food became plenty due to the high production by land yet the population is at average; hence the price of grain when down making it affordable to each and the worker's scarcity led to more valuable peasant labor which was accompanied with the wage rise. The ordinary citizens could now have enough money for more bread and spend the surplus in acquiring dairy products, fish, meat, wine, and fruits (Cole and Symes, Wester Civilization, 286-290). European people were nourished better than they have ever been even today; for example, a study which targeted the fifteenth-century dumps concluded that Scotland people consumed a healthier diet in 1405 as compared to 2005.


From the above discussion, it is clear that both the Great Famine plague and the Black Death which occurred during the Middle Ages of Europe cannot be ignored by cause their impact was more than any other epidemic or war ever experienced in that continent. Notably, the speed at which it was spreading was very astonishing, and it is approximated that it killed fifty percent of the continent population. Therefore, it can be concluded that it the most feared plague ever happened in Europe. Also, the discussion revealed that life after the Black Death was an admirable one because food became plenty resulting in their prices going down, and the depopulation led to more jobs with appropriate wages. It can also be seen that the gentle young women had to leave the city to overcome their suffering.

Word Count = 824

Works Cited

Boccaccio, Giovanni. Introduction from The Decameron. BIBLIOGRAPHY 1353.

Cole and Symes. Western Civilization: Their History and Their Culture BRIEF FOURTH

EDITION. 2019.

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