The Black Death

The Crisis of the Later Middle Ages
The Dance of Death: Late Medieval Fresco in Croatian Church
McKay Chapter 12 (379-408)
One word to describe the 1300s.
Agenda for Today
• McKay Chapter 12 (379-408)
• Homework
Bring Out Your Dead
Today’s Agenda
• Reading Quiz
• Begin Chapter 12
Late Medieval Europe
1st Crusade
Years’ War
Church Power declines
Era of
Secularism Grows
1337 1348
Prelude to Disaster
Climate Change
• Between 1000-1300
Europe’s climate was
warmer than usual
• Agricultural Revolution
– Population boomed
• Little Ice Age
– After 1300 climatecolder & wetter
– Growing season shorter
– 25% of harvests failed
The Great Famine of 1315-1317
 By 1300 Europeans were
over farming
Too many people using
too little land
 Excessive rain for three
years caused massive crop
failures between 1315-17
 15% of the peasants in some
English villages died
 Led to starvation & poverty
 Left survivors susceptible to
"When God saw that the world was so
over proud,
He sent a dearth (famine) on earth, and
made it full hard.
A bushel of wheat was at four shillings
or more,
Of which men might have had a
quarter before....
And then they turned pale who had
laughed so loud,
And they became all docile who before
were so proud.
A man's heart might bleed for to hear
the cry
Of poor men who called out, "Alas!
For hunger I die ...!"
—Poem on the Evil Times of Edward
II, c. 1321.
The Black Death
• one of the most devastating
pandemics in history caused by a
bacteria spread by black rats/ fleas
• Named from Latin, atra mors
(dreadful death)
• Resulted in the deaths of an
estimated 75 to 200 million people
(33% of population)
• Peaked between1347–53
• Brought to Europe from Genoese
sailors fleeing Tartars & plague in
Caffa, Crimea
• Spread rapidly throughout most of
The Course of the Black
Death: Why do you think
some regions were spared?
• Bacteria lived in stomach of flea & blood of rats
• Fleas lived on black rats
• Rats traveled on cargo of trade ships and
disembarked when ship docked and spread to
inland cities
• When host rat died, fleas jumped to humans
• European cities
– Unsanitary
• Poo-poo kaa-kaa in streets
– Overcrowded
• Hygienic standards low
– Wore same cloths
– Rarely bathed
– Multiple people slept in one bed
• 2 Strains:
– Bubonic
• Flea to person
– Pneumonic
• Person to person
• Flu-like symptoms
• Egg-sized lumps from
lymph nodes
• Infection of lungs
• Victims died in 1 to 6
• Victim provoked horror
and disgust
– Unbearable stench
• A disease of revulsion
Causes According to Medieval People
• alignment of the planets
• foul air
– Released from volcano
• Jewish conspiracy
– Believed they had
poisoned wells
– 16 thousand
exaggeration?) Jews
murdered in
Stasbourg (1349)
• God’s punishment
From the Toggenburg Bible, 1411
Treatment of Plague Victims
A Doctor’s
Lancing the
Boccaccio in The
The victims ate lunch with
their friends and dinner
with their ancestors.
Social, Economic, Cultural Consequences
• Not all bad
• Many Priests, monks, and nuns bravely cared
for the sick
– Severe loss of clergy, especially in German
• population decline led to labor shortage and
high inflation
– But wages increased and labor productivity
increased as did per-capita wealth
– Society became divided and full of fear.
• Artists and writers became obsessed with death
• Flagellants
– Monks who wiped themselves as form of
penance for society’s sins
– Often fueled anti-Semitism
The Flagellants and the Medieval Epistemology
the Rosie
A Pocket
Full of
We All
Fall Down
Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453)
A series of wars between
England and France (116
 Capetian line (Sons of
Philip the Fair) died
without direct male heir in
 English King Edward III
(Philip the Fair’s grandson)
claimed French crown
 Denied on grounds that
Sallic law forbade
inheritance through
female line
The Course of the War
Coincides with outbreak of Black
Took place in France & Low
Devastated and weakened the nobles
of France
Last hurrah for chivalry
• English disregarded the chivalric
code and used new military tactics:
the longbow and the cannon
• Longbow was inaccurate but could
be rapidly reloaded
Joan of Arc
• Lifted siege at Orleans (1429)
– Tried and executed as a witch in
– Ignites French patriotism
England ousted from France
Cost and Consequences
Huge population loss in both France and England
Devastated farmland of France, Low Countries
Devastated trade and commerce
Social Tension rose
– Jacquerie Rebellion (1358)
• Nobles demanded more corvee
• Villages pillaged by marauders
• Thousands of peasants rose up
– Intense violence directed at lords
– Watt Tyler’s rebellion (1381)
• English peasant rebellion against an
oppressive poll tax
• Led by Walter Tyler
• Invaded London w/ 50 thousand
• Watt murdered by King Richard II’s vassal on
London Bridge
Death of Watt Tyler at London Bridge
• Parliamentary democracy rose in England
• Nationalism grew in both nations
Decline of Church Prestige
Babylonian Captivity (1309-1377)
– King Philip the Fair of France kidnapped
the pope & forced in to live in the French
city of Avignon
– Papacy became a tool of French
– Most popes lived in luxury & extravagance
Damaged Papal prestige
Urban VI
– A reformer who attempted to stop church
– Cardinals fired Urban & elected Clement
– Now two popes claimed Saint Peter’s Keys
Great Schism (1378-1417)
– England/Germany recognize Urban VI
– France recognize Clement VII
Papal prestige sank even lower
The Avignon Papacy
• Term for period when pope’s lived in
Avignon, France
• Church under control of French monarchy
Avignon, Palais des Papes
• Corruption
• Money making machine
– Simony= selling of church offices
– Pluralism- Bishops holding multiple
offices ($$)
– Tithe- 10% income tax all W. Europeans
paid to Church
– Feudal dues- Peasant serfs required to
work Church lands
– Indulgences- certificate which granted
Papal Indulgence
forgiveness of sin
Conciliar Movement
believed that church authority rested in councils
representing the people--not the authority of the pope
Called for meeting in Constance
Council of Constance (1414)
Meeting of church leaders who wanted to end the
Schism, stop heresy, and put control of Church into
Congress of Cardinals hands
Ended schism
Cardinals elected Pope Martin V
Discouraged heresy
• Jan Huss who had questioned the need for Church
hierarchy executed
Pope Martin refused authority of Cardinals
Dissolved the meeting
Ruled Catholic Church as an absolute monarch
Results of the Disasters
• Church lost power
– Secularism rises
• Population declined
– Wages rise
• Revolts break out
– Favorable position for
• Fixed rents
• Property owning class
• Feudalism breaks down
– Nobility weakened
– Kings begin to centralize
• Trade reemerges
You Too can lose the weight of 1/3
of the population!
Try the Black Plague/100 Years
War/Babylonian Diet NOW!!
Without the 1300s, modernity
does not take place.
• With your BFF, discuss the merits of this
Marriage and the family
• Church law stressed that marriage had to be
freely consented
• Economics, rather than romantic love, was
most important factor
– Men had to wait until their father passed to
inherit sufficient land
• The more land at stake, the more likely it was
an arranged marriage
• Most peasants married someone from their
The Peasant Wedding (1567) by Pieter
Bruegel the Elder
• Merchet- “fine” paid to the lord for his loss of a
• Banns- marriage announcements published for
3 consecutive Sundays
• Marriage age (general pattern)
– Women- late teens
– Men- mid to late 20s
– Divorce did not exist
Life of the People
• land & church were the
centers of life
• Guilds
– Craft unions
– Main purpose was to
maintain a monopoly on
whatever it produced
– Recruitment and
promotion were carefully
The Harvesters by Pieter Bruegel
in 1565
– Women were
increasingly excluded
from guilds
Sports and Recreation
• Violence permeated all sports
• Nobility enjoyed jousts
• Archery and wrestling – popular
among all classes
• Bullbaiting and bearbaiting also
• Ale and beer often led to
– reflected the violence and
frustrations of the age
• Public Executions
– execution of William Wallace
illustrated the violence in
Life of the People
• Furcollar crime
• crime committed by nobility
• Only nobles could wear fur
• increase in the fourteenth and fifteenth
• In England, nobles returning from war
had little to do and were in need of
income; thus they resorted to crime
• Kidnapping, extortion, and terrorism by
the upper classes were widespread
• Because governments were not able to stop
abuses, outlaws such as Robin Hood sought
to protect the people.
• popularity of the Robin Hood legends
symbolized the deep resentment of aristocratic
corruption and abuse