• The plague occurred for the first time in Europe between 1346-1351.
• During those years 30-60% of the population died. It took 150 years for Europe to regain that population.
• The plague returned every 5-10 years or so, although with less severity.
• A mini-ice-age began in mid-14th century Europe causing smaller crops and consequent famine adding to the susceptibility and weakness of the population.
• They died by the hundreds, both day and night, and all were thrown in … ditches and covered with earth. And as soon as those ditches were filled, more were dug. And I, Agnolo di Tura … buried my five children with my own hands … And so many died that all believed it was the end of the world. —The Plague in Sienna: An Italian Chronicle
Effects of the Plague
• Massive de-population meant opportunities for some, particularly rural peasants as land became available and wages increased.
• The disruption caused many to question the political and religious establishment leading to uprisings and riots.
• Riots were sometimes directed at local populations of Jews, thousands were killed as scapegoats for the plague.
• The concentration of wealth in the cities left the rich with greater power which was one of the causes of capitalism.