Major Problems in Europe During the Fourteenth Century

12 December 2016

In the fourteenth century, European states faced many major problems that are evident in the history of the entire continent. These problems drastically changed the culture, religion, economy, and land. Throughout the 14th century, Europeans faced several catastrophes that changed the continent’s culture, land, religion, and economy, as shown in the Black Death, social upheavals, and war. The Black Death was one of the most devastating calamities in Europe’s written history. The Bubonic plaque was the most common form of plague during the Black Death.

It was spread by black rats infested with fleas carrying a deadly bacterium. Originating from Asia, the plague spread quickly when it reached Europe in 1347 from Genoese merchants. In 1348, the plague and spread to France, and by the end of that year, to England. In northern France, some villages experienced death rates of almost up to forty percent. In England, some villages were completely wiped out. Within three years, this outbreak of disease eliminated almost two-thirds of the continent’s population.

Major Problems in Europe During the Fourteenth Century Essay Example

It took almost 200 years from Europe to return to the population level it had before the Black Death struck. The plague also eliminated hope and wiped out crops. This depleted a will to live; there was little food, safety, and hope. The only thing people had was God. People began turning to religion to save themselves and give them a purpose to live. Another major problem that stuck Europe was social upheaval. Due to the high death rates and the decreasing number of able-bodied humans following the Black Death, wages began to rise because workers had more to barter for.

This forced landlords to pay more for labor, while the price of everything else was decreasing. Following that was the decline in the rank of landlords and increase of the peasants’ social status. In 1358, a peasant revolt broke out in northern France. However, this revolt was not successful. Something similar happened in England, in 1381, a product of rising expectations. The peasants refused to pay a new tax, and drove out the collectors from their villages. This initiated a widespread rebellion of both townspeople and peasants. Unlike the revolt in France however, this one was successful.

The poll tax was pardoned by the young king after the revolt. War was also a major problem of the fourteenth century in Europe. One famous war was the Hundred Years’ War. It was created through a struggle between the French and English. One dispute over the right of succession to the French throne also complicated the struggle. The Hundred Years’ War began with enthusiasm from knights, but the manpower ended up with the peasants. One famous hero was Joan of Arc who experienced visions from saints whom told her to have the dauphin crowned as king and free France.

The war finally ended with England’s defeat. Looking back, we can see that Europe had many problems in the fourteenth century. These problems greatly affected Europe, and this is evident in the history and shaping of its culture, land, religion, and economy. The Black Death wiped out much of the population, and following that was social disruption. There became a greater need for peasants more than noblemen and landlords. Finally, war caused great distress and also showed the strength of the peasants.

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