Crisis of the 14th Century

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Crisis of the 14th Century

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Black Death


Hundred Years War


Great Famine


What was it?


came to Europe in October of 1347, spread swiftly through most of Europe by the end of 1349 and on to Scandinavia and Russia in the 1350s. It returned several times throughout the rest of the century

War between France and England

A famine resulting in major food shortages

What / who caused this event?

-brought from Asia on a Genoese ship

-Hunger and poor hygiene conditions stimulated its spreading.

-cities suffered the worst consequences...population more concentrated

- succession of the throne…claims to the throne by both England and France

- mercenary armies

- economic…northern France wealthy as trade and cloth making centers….relied on English wool…supported English as France increased taxes


-large scale crises that struck Northern Europe early in the fourteenth century

-bad weather in spring 1315, universal crop failures lasted through 1316 until summer harvest in 1317; Europe did not fully recover until 1322

What were the effects of this event on Medieval Europe?



-Short- to medium-term: recession

-Peasant revolts

-Labor shortages

-Higher wages

-Increased social mobility

-More money, rights for commoners, peasants

-Beginnings of capitalism

-surplus of goods resulted in overspending; swiftly followed by shortage of goods and inflation.

-shortage of laborers meant they were able to charge higher prices; government tried to limit these fees to pre-plague rates

- killed a quarter of the population in Europe

- Cultural and religious reactions

*Plague as divine wrath



*Search for pleasure, drama

*Dance of Death

*Rejection of church authority


*Persecutions of “outsiders”

-marriage rate rose sharply -- in part due to predatory men marrying rich orphans and widows.

-birth rate rose, though recurrences of the plague kept population levels reduced.

-notable increases in violence and debauchery.

-Upward mobility took place on a small scale.

-Many cities lost more than 40% of their residents, Paris lost half, and Venice, Hamburg and Bremen are estimated to have lost at least 60% of their populations

- Church lost many people, but the institution became richer through bequests. also grew richer by charging more money for its services, such as saying mass for the dead.

-Less-educated priests were shuffled into jobs where more learned men had died.

-failure of the clergy to help the suffering during the plague, combined with its obvious wealth and the incompetence of its priests, caused resentment among the people. Critics grew vocal, and the seeds of the Reformation were sown.

-persistence of plague and the horrors it wreaked had long-term effects on the medieval psyche both subtle and severe.


-Heavy taxation *

-Physical destruction by armies, mobs …France had been severely damaged

-Added to impact of famine, plague

-economy was damaged and disrupted


-Peasant revolts

-End of ideal of knighthood

-Brutality and incompetence of aristocratic “knightly” elites

-populations fled or were massacred

-**emergence of a much greater sense of patriotism and national identity


-France had begun the journey to absolutist monarchy which would characterize so later centuries

-The French crown benefited from triumphing, not just over England, but over other dissident French nobles, binding France closer together as a single body.


-Crop failure


-Death of draft animals

-Economic collapse



-increase criminal activity

-mass death


-*final recourse to all problems had been religion, no amount of prayer seemed effective against the causes of the famine, which undermined the institutional authority of the Catholic Church

-Great Famine marked a clear end to an unprecedented period of population growth that had started around 1050


-failure of the Medieval governments to deal with the crisis

-undermining their power and authority


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