Essay about England in The 14th Century: The Most Significant Social Changes

Essay about England in The 14th Century: The Most Significant Social Changes

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The fourteenth century in Europe was a time of great social change. Social opportunities were increasing for groups that had previously been excluded from much of society, especially peasants and women. Class barriers were also beginning to become less stringent that they had previously been, as well as urbanisation and commercialisation becoming more prominent. On the other side of the spectrum, increasing resistance to the established order can be found in this period, such as the Peasants’ Revolt in England in 1381, and Ciompi rebellion in Florence in 1378. This vast array of social changes must be understood against the significant events that took place in fourteenth century Europe. The most important of these was the Black Death, which began in 1347. Widely recognised as an outbreak of Bubonic Plague, not only did it cause a significant decrease in the population of Europe, but it was also the key driving force behind many of the social changes that took place, and were already taking place, during this period. Despite the great importance of this, there were other factors which contributed to the significant social changes that took place. These included the ever increasing urbanisation and commercialisation of society, inefficient governance by some rulers, as well as war. It was a combination of these factors that cause the social changes that the people of fourteenth century Europe experienced.
The most significant social change that the Black Death brought about was that it provided increased opportunities for those who had previously been excluded from the inner workings of general society, especially women. In the early part of the fourteenth century, prior to the advent of the disease, women were in general confined...


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...ot mean that people abandoned religion altogether, it meant that society became more and more secularised, a trend that would continue for many centuries to come.
Social change during this period did not only come from below; it was also implemented from above.
Despite the significance of the Black Death as a factor behind the social change seen in fourteenth century Europe, there were other driving forces behind this. One of these was the growing levels of social upheaval brought about by inefficient and tyrannical governance by rulers. A great number of revolts occurred during this period, such as the revolts in southern France in 1378 to 1379, the Ciompi rebellion in Florence in 1378, as well as the Peasants’ Revolt in England in 1381. The latter best illustrates how this change was partially brought about by unpopular decisions made by the incumbent government.

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