The Black Dearth


Perhaps, prior to the Black Death, the human history has not experienced any pandemic of such magnitude. Though its cause was largely speculated then, recent forensic research reports have shown the Black Death to have been brought about by Yersinia pestis, a bacterium. However, this has been disputed by some authors and scholars. The pandemic reached the top of the curve in Europe in the period ranging from 1348-1350. In this text, I discuss the Black Death and its impact.

The black dearth and its impact

The population of Europe believed to have been wiped out by the Black Death was between 30% and 60%. This effectively means that the Black Death effectively reduced Europe’s population to about 250 million people from a population of about 450 million people. According to Ziegler (2009), the pandemic and its devastating consequences is believed to have informed the establishment of a number of upheavals of an economic, social as well as religious nature.  All this upheavals had a magnanimous effect on the European history. It was not until the 19th century that the plague left Europe and after this, Europe took an estimated one hundred and fifty years to recover. Noble et al. (2010) notes that the plague eliminated so many people that labor was hard to come by especially for rich landowners. This essentially created a mismatch between supply and demand for labor in such a way that workers had to be paid as pr their own terms. The plague also meant that individuals could now grow luxury crops as most of the crops needed for consumption purposes were now in constant supply. According to Ziegler (2009), the plague had an effect of enhancing the lives of a majority of the peasant population as he competition for resources was substantially scaled down and in many ways, the a majority of the peasants were able to lead improve the quality of their living. In the opinion of many analysts, this in many ways marked the genesis of the middleclass not only in England but also in Europe as well.

According to Noble et al. (2010), the plague had a lasting impact on literature and art. There are many chronicles of the events that followed the Black Death and these were put down by a number of well known philosophers as well as writers and leaders like Petrarch and Boccaccio. For instance, a substantial number of poetry in vernacular as well as letters written by Petrarch were past on to later generations. Other popular pieces that were put down at the height of the plague include the sorrowful sirventes by Montech.At the religious front, there was a shift in belief that have been believed t have paved the way for reformation. The events informing the Black Death lead people to question the role of the clergy as intermediaries and this lead more people to cultivating a more personal relationship with God.It is also important to note that the Black Death brought with itself a lasting impact on national language. Though the official government language was largely taken to be French, he plague informed the death of so many government officials as well as teachers and the language had to be switched back to commoner’s language, that is, English.


In conclusion, the Black Death brought about far reaching changes and it has been noted that though its effects were horrific and devastating, England has been shaped to what it is today by the remnants of the black death.


Noble, T.F., Strauss, B., Osheim, D.J., Neuschel, K. B., & Roberts, D. Western Civilization: Beyond Boundaries, 6th Edition. Cengage Learning, 2010

Ziegler, P. The Black Death. Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2009

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