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However, the dramatic population reduction had a number of different side effects. The first was to dramatically decrease the working population, which put those who survived in a strong bargaining position.


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Labour was in huge demand which meant peasants could go where the pay and conditions were best. For the first time, the balance of power was shifting in the direction of the poorest in society. In the immediate aftermath, the cost of labour increased. A depiction of serfs at work during the harvest from the 14th century.

The reaction of the elites was to use the law. In the Ordinance of Labour was published which limited the freedom of movement for peasants around the country. However, even the power of the law was no match against the power of the market, and it did little to stop the lot of peasants improving. This new found independence encouraged the peasantry to become more vociferous in standing up for their rights.

They were helped by a radical preacher John Wycliffe who believed the only religious authority was the Bible over and above either a King or a Pope.

The Great Plague of London (1665-66)

His followers, known as the Lollards became ever more vocal in demanding greater rights. Radical preacher John Ball speaks to the forces of Watt Tyler. Tyler is shown front left in red with a black hat.

In the introduction of a poll tax sparked all out rebellion. Led by Watt Tyler the peasants marched on London and rampaged through the city. Although this rebellion was eventually quelled and Watt Tyler killed, it was a land mark point in English history.

Great Plague of London | epidemic, London, England, United Kingdom [–] | kwahicaninban.gq

For the first time the ordinary people of England had risen up against their overlords and demanded greater rights. It would not be the last and England was forever changed. Find out more or adjust your settings. This website uses cookies so that we can provide you with the best user experience possible. Cookie information is stored in your browser and performs functions such as recognising you when you return to our website and helping our team to understand which sections of the website you find most interesting and useful. Strictly Necessary Cookie should be enabled at all times so that we can save your preferences for cookie settings.

If you disable this cookie, we will not be able to save your preferences. The buboes are red at first but later turn a dark purple, or black. This black colouring gives the "Black Death" its name. Pneumonic plague occurs when the infection enters the lungs, causing the victim to vomit blood. Infected pneumonic people can spread the disease through the air by coughing, sneezing, or just breathing!

The Great Plague 1665 – the Black Death

In Septicemic plague the bacteria enters the person's bloodstream, causing death within a day. The speed with which the disease could kill was terrifying to inhabitants of the medieval world. The Italian author Boccaccio claimed that the plague victims "ate lunch with their friends and dinner with their ancestors in paradise. The Black Death reaches England The summer of was abnormally wet. Grain lay rotting in the fields due to the nearly constant rains.


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With the harvest so adversely affected, it seemed certain that there would be food shortages. But a far worse enemy was set to appear. It isn't clear exactly when or where the Black Death reached England. Some reports at the time pointed to Bristol, others to Dorset. The disease may have appeared as early as late June or as late as August 4.

The Black Death in England 1348-1350

We do know that in mid-summer the Channel Islands were reeling under an outbreak of the plague. From this simple beginning, the disease spread throughout England with dizzying speed and fatal consequences. The effect was at its worst in cities, where overcrowding and primitive sanitation aided its spread. On November 1 the plague reached London, and up to 30, of the city's population of 70, inhabitants succumbed.

Given that the pre-plague population of England was in the range of million people, fatalities may have reached as high as 2 million dead.

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One of the worst aspects of the disease to the medieval Christian mind is that people died without last rites and without having a chance to confess their sins. Pope Clement VI was forced to grant remission of sins to all who died of the plague because so many perished without the benefit of clergy. People were allowed to confess their sins to one another, or "even to a woman". The death rate was exceptionally high in isolated populations like prisons and monasteries.

The disease caused between 75 to 200 million deaths around the world

It has been estimated that up to two-thirds of the clergy of England died within a single year. Peasants fled their fields. Livestock were left to fend for themselves, and crops left to rot. The monk Henry of Knighton declared, "Many villages and hamlets have now become quite desolate. No one is left in the houses, for the people are dead that once inhabited them.

An army gathered near Stirling to strike while England lay defenceless. But before the Scots could march, the plague decimated their ranks. Pursued by English troops, the Scots fled north, spreading the plague deep into their homeland. In an effort to assuage the wrath of God, many people turned to public acts of penitence. Processions lasting as long as three days were authorized by the Pope to mollify God, but the only real effect of these public acts was to spread the disease further.

By the end of the Black Death had subsided, but it never really died out in England for the next several hundred years. There were further outbreaks in , , , , and throughout the first half of the 15th century. It was not until the late 17th century that England became largely free of serious plague epidemics. Consequences It is impossible to overstate the terrible effects of the Black Death on England. With the population so low, there were not enough workers to work the land.

As a result, wages and prices rose. The Ordinances of Labourers tried to legislate a return to pre-plague wage levels, but the overwhelming shortage of labourers meant that wages continued to rise. Landowners offered extras such as food, drink, and extra benefits to lure labourers. The standard of living for labourers rose accordingly.

The nature of the economy changed to meet the changing social conditions.

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Land that had once been farmed was now given over to pasture, which was much less labour-intensive. This helped boost the cloth and woollen industry.