E. Napp Objective: To identify and explain the effects of the Black Death

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The Effects of the Black Death

E. Napp

Objective: To identify and explain the effects of the Black Death

Do Now: Multiple-choice questions from previous lessons

  1. Between 1300 and 1450, the plague reduced the number of people in Europe by

  1. About 10%.

  2. About one in four.

  3. About 1/3.

  4. About one in ten.

  1. The plague had all of the following effects EXCEPT

  1. People afflicted by it bled from the nose or got large tumors and purple spots all over their body.

  2. It swept through communities like fire through dry tinder.

  3. It caused people to shun the families of the sick and refugees from afflicted communities.

  4. It inspired European doctors to make major strides in medicine as they sought a cure for it.

  1. The Black Death found its way into Europe via

  1. North Africa

  2. Asian trade routes

  3. Spain

  4. Scandinavia

  1. Results of the Black Death included:

  1. The death of tens of millions

  2. The decline of cultural transmission and trade across Eurasia

  3. The halting of growth of population, trade, and industry

  4. All of the above

5. The plague was probably brought into Europe by

(1) Chinese soldiers.

(2) Spanish warriors returning from South America.

(3) English soldiers pushing into France.

(4) Returning crusaders.

(5) Genoese ships from the Crimea.
6. After 1347, the Black Death generally moved

(1) From north to south.

(2) From west to east.

(3) From south to north.

(4) From north to south.

(5) From east to west.


  1. What encouraged the spread of the Bubonic Plague? __________________________

  2. What did the plague spread on? __________________________

  3. How did the plague affect Europe? __________________________

  4. How did the plague affect China? __________________________

A result of the increased interaction between Europe and the Middle East was the spread of the Bubonic Plague, also known as, the Black Death.  Starting in the 1100s, the plague was spread along trade routes and had an enormous impact on Europe, including the loss of 1/3 of the population, a decline in their economy, and a weakening of feudalism.  In China, 35 million people died as a result of the plague, and in Cairo, Egypt, 7,000 people a day died at the disease's height.


Cornell Notes Outline: The Effects of the Black Death (Add Key Words and Summaries)

The Key Words:

The Notes:

  1. The Effects of the Black Death

    1. Population Loss

      1. One-third of Western Europe’s population died.

        1. Fewer workers

          1. Higher wages

            1. To attract workers, employers had to offer higher wages.

        2. Feudal obligations weakened.

          1. Demand for workers allowed some serfs to leave manors.

        3. Food prices dropped.

          1. Fewer people needed less food.

          2. Lower prices increased demand.

      2. Fewer people were left to pay taxes.

        1. Construction projects stopped.

        2. Governments had less money for public goods.

    1. Religious reactions

      1. Many believed that the plague was a punishment from God.

        1. Flagellants punished themselves hoping to receive God’s protection and forgiveness

      2. Anti-Semitism increased

        1. Some Catholics blamed Jews for the plague

          1. Persecution of Jews increased.

The Summaries:

Please read the passage below and answer the questions:

The Black Death greatly affected the people and societies of Western Europe. It also marked a dividing line between the central Middle Ages, with medieval culture at its greatest strength, and the later Middle Ages with its chronically reduced population. Fewer people were left to work, pay taxes, and even pay their debts. In fact, not only had the debtor died, his whole family had died with him as well as many of his kinsmen. There was simply no one to collect from.

Construction projects stopped for a time or were abandoned altogether. Guilds or craft unions lost their craftsmen and could not replace them. Mills and other special machinery might break and the one man in town who had the skill to repair it had died in the plague. There were towns advertising for specialists, offering high wages.

The labor shortage was very severe, especially in the short term, and consequently, wages rose. Because of the mortality, there was an oversupply of goods, and so prices dropped. Between the two trends, the standard of living rose . . . for those still living. Effects in the countryside were just as severe. Farms and entire villages died out or were abandoned as the few survivors decided not to stay on. When Norwegian sailors finally visited Greenland again in the early 1400s, they found in the settlements there only wild cattle roaming through deserted villages.


1: How did the Black Death affect Western European societies? ______________________________________________________________________________

2: Why did wages rise? ______________________________________________________________________________

3: Why did food prices drop? ______________________________________________________________________________

The Roman Catholic Church was also affected by the Black Death. Many priests died and no one could hear confession. Bishops died, and so did their successors and even their successors. The loss of life in such great numbers and to such a gruesome a disease, brought despair everywhere. People wondered how God do this. And why could not His servants in the Church avert or mitigate His wrath?

"During this great epidemic of death [in Tuscany] more than eighty died of every hundred, and the air was so infested that death overtook men everywhere, wherever they might flee. And when they saw everybody dying they no longer heeded death and believed that the end of the world was at hand."

The tone in this excerpt finds echoes throughout Europe. There were those indeed who believed this calamity marked the end of the world. Even after the crisis had passed, and the world remained, there were those who wondered why God should have so scourged the world.
4: How did the Black Death affect the Roman Catholic Church? ______________________________________________________________________________

5: Why did people believe that the end of the world was at hand? ______________________________________________________________________________

6: How did the Black Death affect people’s beliefs in God and the Church? ______________________________________________________________________________

The Black Death






Effects of the Black Death on England:
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 (1349) tried to legislate a return to pre-plague wage levels, but the overwhelming shortage of laborers meant that wages continued to rise. Landowners offered extras such as food, drink, and extra benefits to lure laborers. The standard of living for laborers rose accordingly.

The nature of the economy changed to meet the changing social conditions. Land that had once been farmed was now given over to pasturing, which was much less labor-intensive. This helped boost the cloth and woolen industry. Society became more mobile, as peasants moved to accept work where they could command a good wage.

The short term economic prosperity did not last; the underlying feudal structure of society had not changed, and by the mid-15th century standards of living had fallen again. Yet for most levels of English society the Black Death represented a massive upheaval, one which changed the face of English society in a profound way.
Write Five Conclusions about the Effects of the Black Death on England:

1: ___________________________________________________________

2: ___________________________________________________________

3: ___________________________________________________________

4: ___________________________________________________________

5: ___________________________________________________________

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