Was Henry A Good King? Essay

2005 words - 9 pages

The black death came to the southwest of England in 1348. With no cure, it wasn't until 1350 that this first epidemic ended and by that time approximately 50% of the population had been killed and more died as a result of later epidemics, a huge population decline which shaped England in many ways. [footnoteRef:1]. At one point it's impact was believed to have lasted long term: shaping society, government and the economy for centuries to come. This theory has, however, been questioned more recently and in some cases discredited completely with Eileen Power suggesting the plague had very little effect whatsoever. [footnoteRef:2] In this essay I will argue that the black death was very important in driving economic, social and political change in England 1348 to 1500 but generally in conjunction with other factors. To attempt to address all the changes that occurred in this period would be unrealistic and this essay will therefore focus on what appears to be the main ones. [1: C. Dyer Making a Living in the Middle Ages The People of Britain 850-1520 (Yale University Press, 2002) p271] [2: J. Hatcher 'England in the Aftermath of the Black Death' from Past and Present (University College London Press, 1994) p3] One key economic trend was the commercialisation of the economy. There is evidence that the black death was linked to this trend. With the large amounts of vacant land following the black death land lords had the opportunity to take on more and so larger commercial farms developed aiding the eventual demise of demesne farming. [footnoteRef:3] Furthermore, the black death increased the spending power of the peasantry as wages rose so increased the demand for consumer goods. [footnoteRef:4] This was essential in commercialising the economy as previously peasants were only concerned with basic needs, mainly food so the increase in demand for other goods helped drive the commercial economy which helps explain the boom in the cloth industry in the 15th century. However it has also been noted that the commercialisation of the economy actually dated back to before 1348 for example Snooks traces this back to 1086. [footnoteRef:5] Others have disagreed with Massachaele suggesting Snooks estimate is too early, but most economic historians , based on studies of GDPs, believe that by 1300 the commercialisation of the economy was underway. [footnoteRef:6] This shows that the black death accelerated change by encouraging the increasing reliance on trade, but it cannot be sighted as the 'parent of economic development' as some suggest. [footnoteRef:7] [3: B Dodds 'Pestilence 1349-c. 1440' from Peasants and Production in the Medieval North East: Evidence fromTtithes 1270-1536 (boydell press, 2007)p74] [4: W. . Zapotoczny The Political and Social Consequences of the Black Death, 1348 1351 from http://www. wzaponline. com/yahoo_site_admin/assets/docs/BlackDeath. 292130639. pdf [accessed 24/02/2017]] [5: M. Bailey 'Historiographical essay ...

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