The Effects of Plagues Essay

The Effects of Plagues Essay

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The Effects of Plagues

The effects of the plagues differed from one region to another
according to the forms of agriculture practised and local economic
conditions. So we should be very careful about making broad
generalisations. As one might expect the kill rate was lower in the
countryside than it was in the towns, but it was still significant. In
a selection of Essex manors hit in 1349 the range was between 25% at
Market Roding rising to 54% at High Easter. Medieval Essex was highly
manorialised and close to the main trade routes out of London and
along the Essex coast and therefore more vulnerable. Overall rural
mortality is thought to have been around 30% for those parts of Europe
affected by the 1348 plague.. This however is not the end of the
story. Between 1349 and 1369 recurrent bouts of the plague removed 80%
of the pre Black Death population at Coltishall in Norfolk. These are
catastrophic figures which must inevitably have affected the whole
economic scene. Societies cannot afford to lose populations on this
scale and recover overnight. Economic recession was inevitable.

There were a number of collateral phenomena which added to the
immediate impact of the 1348 Plague. The inability of the survivors to
bury the dead has already been noted. In the countryside people died
in the field and ditches and were left to rot. But humans were not the
only victims. Knighton noted that in 1348 there as a also a great
murrain of sheep everywhere in the realm "so that" he


"in one place more than 5000 sheep died in a single pasture, and they
rotted so much that neither beast not bird would approach
them"...."Sheep and o...

... middle of paper ... the transition to leasehold tenures and away from feudal
labour services. Others, especially Bridbury have argued that there
was genuine economic growth in the late fourteenth century. More
recent historians have reemphasised the crucial role not just of the
Black Death, but of the subsequent plagues in preventing the recovery
of population levels to the critical mass at which they could sustain
an expanding economy comparable with that of the thirteenth century
and precipitating a fundamental change in the structure of lordship
and agrarian society. After 1348, and especially after the 1380's
things were never to be the same again. Substantial economic growth
did not come until the sixteenth century and it depended, as it did in
the twelfth century, on the response of the towns to the mid
fourteenth century crisis.

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