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A history of the late medieval europe in the period between 1250 and 1450

Climate Chance, Soil Exhaustion, and Agricultural Decline Although agricultural productivity had increased in the High Middle Ages, population growth had exceeded the limits of the agricultural economy by 1300. Part of the problem was that the world climate began shifting again in the mid-1200s. Average temperatures cooled slightly, shortening the growing season. Patterns of rainfall changed dramatically: Agriculture became unsustainable in far Northern Europe, and in the rest of Europe productivity dropped significantly.

A history of the late medieval europe in the period between 1250 and 1450

Soil exhaustion added to these climatic problems. Although the three-field system had slowed this process, generations of intensive farming had simply drained the soil of nutrients to the point that productivity declined compared to the 1100s, farmers reaped a smaller harvest in relation to the amount of seed they had sown.

The most dramatic cases of soil exhaustion were on newly settled marginal lands, which had been cultivated as the population expanded. The sum effect of declining productivity was food shortage in the best years of the 1300s and famines in the worst years. Famine and the Black Death In the 1300s Europeans faced the constant threat of famine—mass starvation. Harvests had been poor and mass hunger a serious danger in 1305-1314; then, in 1315-1322, famine devastated most of Europe.

Spring and Summer floods led to crop failures, so that peasants had absolutely no surplus grain to sell at market in fall 1315; things were so bad in winter 1315-1316 that peasants ate the seed that they had stored for the Spring planting. Therefore they had little to plant in Spring 1316, which together with bad weather made that another famine year. It took more than five years to break this cycle.

Making matters worse was a wave of "epizootics" epidemic diseases among animals that destroyed much of Europe's livestock. This not added to the problems of agriculture by killing off draft animals, but also deprived people of meat and dairy products. The results of starvation were devastating. Tens of thousands of people simply starved to death. Epidemic illnesses carried off tens of thousands more whose resistance to disease had been weakened by hunger.

At least one in every ten people in Europe perished in the famines and epidemics of 1315-1316. Still, the population exceeded Europe's agricultural capacity. With demand high and grain supplies low, prices for food soared. Although the wealthy aristocracy continued to live in luxury and seldom went without, hunger remained a constant for the mass of the rural and urban poor. In 1347, though, a new plague struck Europe and hit rich and poor alike: Although there is some debate among historians as to the epidemiology of the Black Death, most historians argue that this was the Plague in two forms, bubonic and pneumonic.

According to the dominant theory, the Plague had begun in Mongolia then in the early 1300s was carried by rats and fleas to lands that the Mongol armies a history of the late medieval europe in the period between 1250 and 1450 conquered in the previous century--China, Northern India, and Russ.

  1. Isabella and Mortimer were effectively in power, but in 1330 Edward III asserted himself, had Mortimer executed, and staked a claim to the throne of France. Warring between princes opened the opportunity for several cities to declare themselves independent of aristocratic rule, and for several lesser aristocrats to renounce service to their lords and declare themselves the independent rulers of their own fiefdoms.
  2. Jewish physicians exerted a considerable influence on the medical profession, even though religious and racial discourse pervaded popular perceptions of their work in the medieval urban community.
  3. On several occasions, artisans and the urban poor spontaneously rose in protest against hunger and against the upper classes especially the aristocrats , who lived in luxury and used their political power to keep wages low. Popular Religious responses to crisis pilgrims, flagellants, mystics, and Lollards One common response to the multiple disasters and hardships of the 1300s was to conclude that God was passing judgment on mankind's sins.

Italian ships trading with the Russ cities on the Black Sea had accidentally transported disease-carrying rats and fleas back to Genoa. The disease then spread along trade routes through Italy and into Western and Central Europe. Those bitten by infected fleas died horrible deaths within a week's time; those who inhaled the virus died much more quickly but no less horridly.

Within a generation, Plagued had killed off 40 percent of the English population and nearly 60 percent of the population in Northeastern France. The only escape from Plague seemed to be to flee infected districts completely.

The mass of death and the flight of populations further undermined agriculture and added to the constant threat of famine. The Hundred Years' War The governments of France and England added to these natural calamities by carrying out a series of long, deadly wars, which are known collectively as the Hundred Years' War 1337-1453and which aggravated the problem of agricultural decline.

The Hundred Years' War had its roots in three situations: The war took place entirely in France, and contributed to the loss of lives and farmland. We will return to the war later in this lecture Crisis in the Towns Famine and disease, and especially the Black Death, hit the towns as hard if not harder than they did the villages.

If anything, sanitary conditions in the towns were even worse than in the countryside, and overcrowding contributed to the rapid spread of epidemics.

  1. The church and its leading institution, the papacy, like the monarchy so strong in the 12th and early 13th centuries, also became weak and disorganised in the later Middle Ages.
  2. Lancastrians, who had usurped the throne from Richard II in 1399, against Yorkists, whose forebears had a better claim in 1399. Throughout England much that we recognise today was established and survives.
  3. Such a smooth transition was a tribute to effective government administration in England.
  4. Best college essay writing services. The disease then spread along trade routes through Italy and into Western and Central Europe.

Some cities like Milan and Nuremberg escaped the devastation of the Black Death, but in London and many other great cities as many as half of the population died of the disease.

In France, the ravages of the Hundred Years' War added to the death toll.

Overview: The Middle Ages, 1154 - 1485

The huge costs of warfare and the collapse of agricultural production and trade took their toll on the urban economy as well. In the mid-1300s, France and England both refused to pay off loans made by the great urban banking houses of Italy, which led to financial crisis and collapse in Florence and Sienna.

Yet in the long run, towns and cities would rebound and even benefit from the effects of the crisis of the 1300s. Peasant Uprisings in France and England The strains of life in the countryside, of hunger, disease, war and death, were made worse by feudal lords' instance that peasants continue paying high rents and other feudal dues and by the burden of royal taxation.

In France, peasant willingness to meet such obligations reached a breaking point in Spring and Summer 1358. The English, who had captured French King John II in the Battle of Poiters 1356had demanded a huge ransom for his release; the French crown passed this cost along to the peasants in the form of huge tax increases.

Peasants in the districts around Paris, sensing that the royal government was weak and had little means to punish them, spontaneously rose in a mass rebellion called the "Jacquerie" after the name "Jacques," common among peasants.

The Jacquerie was a rebellion not only against the government, but also against the power of the aristocrats. Here, for instance, is a fragment of a contemporary account of the Jacquerie in one district: They did likewise in several castles and good houses…. While this account is from an aristocrat, who had an interest in portraying the rebels as criminal and animalistic, it is clear that the uprising posed a threat to both the royal government and the aristocrats.

The aristocracy therefore joined the government in crushing this threat to their power, and by fall 1358 had drown the rebellion in blood. A generation later, in 1381, peasants rose up in mass rebellion in England. Again, the rebellion was aimed as much at the aristocrats as it was at the crown. By the 1380s, population decline in England had created a labor shortage, which should have resulted in higher wages for agricultural labor.

But the aristocrats used their power in Parliament to enforce a freeze of wages at early-1300s-levels, and also demanded more work from serfs under their control. When the royal government then tried to impose new, high taxes to pay for the latest rounds of the Hundred Years' War, the peasants rebelled, as did artisans and many other townspeople.

The rebellion began in Essex in May, then spread to Kent and Canterbury. Rebels first attacked the persons and property of the aristocratic landlords and the tax collectors and their records ; they then marched on London and the royal government in June. Young King Richard II diffused the situation by promising the rebels that he would revoke laws that had kept wages low and rents high; he also promised to abolish serfdom.

The rag-tag rebel army dispersed. Richard then ordered its leaders arrested and executed, and by August the last embers of the rebellion had been put out. Richard kept this first promise and lifted laws artificially depressing wages and bolstering rents. He did not abolish serfdom, but serfdom nonetheless faded away completely in England in the early 1400s.

Urban Rebellions The rural population was not alone in rising in rebellion during the crisis decades of the 1300s. On several occasions, artisans and the urban poor spontaneously rose in protest against hunger and against the upper classes especially the aristocratswho lived in luxury and used their political power to keep wages low.

In 1358, the year of the Jacquerie, artisans and the poor in Paris protested against low wages and high rents which made the Jacquerie all the more threatening ; the crown responded by executing apparent rebel leaders in Paris, Toulouse, and other cities.

In 1378-1383 urban unrest reached its height: While some of these rebellions had clear political aims, they are probably best seem as expressions of outrage and frustration at gross social inequities in times of extreme hardship.

Popular Religious responses to crisis pilgrims, flagellants, mystics, and Lollards One common response to the multiple disasters and hardships of the 1300s was to conclude that God was passing judgment on mankind's sins.

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This was not a surprising response given the new trends in popular Christian practice discussed in lecture 10. Tens of thousands of devout concluded that the Church had failed to satisfy their spiritual needs, often because they saw the clergy as too worldly.

One very common means of filling this spiritual hunger was to engage in pilgrimages to holy sites which became much more common in the 1300s. Another was to follow the example of early Christian hermits, who thought that punishing the flesh was a means of feeding the spirit: While some Europeans sought to beat sin out of themselves, others became absorbed in mysticism, which led in the Church's view to heresy. Following the writings of the Dominican priest Master Eckart 1260-1327for instance, many faithful believed they could commune with God by turning their back on the worldly and meditating on "the spiritual mysteries of Christ.

From the perspective of the Church, the problem with this again was that it also undermined the theological significance of the Church and priesthood. One of the most doctrinally complex forms of heresy to emerge in the 1300s were the teachings of English theologian John Wyclif 1330-1384who like St. Augustine argued that God had predestined only some souls for salvation and the rest for damnation. All Christians could do, Wyclif concluded, was live simply and obey the teachings of Christ. From this, Wyclif reasoned that the Church's sacraments were unnecessary and that so was the Church administration.

The Church, he concluded, did little more that provide worldly power and wealth to priests and Bishops, whom he condemned as sinners. Wyclif died before he could be convicted of heresy; after his death, though, thousands of his followers called Lollards took up his teachings and rejected the Church. In response to the growth of the Lollard movement, the Church in England declared this heresy punishable by death in 1401. Persecution of the Lollards led them to rebel in 1414, but they were easily crushed.

Lollardism faded in popularity after 1414, but it did not go away. It eventually merged with the Puritan movement, which we will discuss later this semester. Philip then forced the new Pope Clement V not only to defend the King's actions, but to live under French guard in Avignon, a "papal city" in southern France. In Church History this situation, which lasted until 1378, is called the Babylonian Captivity the term comes from the captivity of the Hebrews in Babylon—see lecture 3because the Pope became in effect subservient to the French King.

There were advantages for the Papacy: But the popular perception of the Papacy and the bishops as vassals of France, and the perception that ecclesiastical officers lived in luxury while missions of Christians were starving and suffering, combined to damage the legitimacy of the Church.

This is clear if we consider the heretical movements discussed above. But only months later, the Cardinals reversed their decision and appointed a French bishop Clement VII as the new pope.

Urban VI, who refused to step down, responded by naming a new College of Cardinals and declared that he would rule the Church from Rome, Clement VII insisted that he was the rightful pope, and that he would rule the Church from Avignon.

So began the "Great Schism," in which the bishops of Europe declared loyalty to one pope or the other, and the two a history of the late medieval europe in the period between 1250 and 1450 denounced each other as heretics.

The split outlived both Urban and Clement, and the rival French and Italian papacies continued battling. Things became even more confusing when a gathering of bishops in Pisa appointed a third rival pope in 1409. The dispute was not settled until the Council of Constance in 1417, which we will discuss in a bit. The impact of all this infighting was to further discredit the Church in the eyes of tens of thousands of the faithful, which again helps us understand polar heresies of the 1300s.

  • By the Treaty of Paris 1259 he admitted failure and secured remote Gascony by giving up claims to lands in northern France, including iconic Normandy;
  • The mass of death and the flight of populations further undermined agriculture and added to the constant threat of famine;
  • Ireland, Scotland and Wales all enjoy similar cultural characteristics.

Internal Warfare and Political Anarchy in Italy and Germany Most of Italy was engulfed in internal warfare and political anarchy in the 1300s.