The bubonic plague originated in Italy in the 1350s and spread across Russia in 1360’s. The plague also called “Black Death” killed almost one hundred million collectively all around the world. This global havoc. Since no cure was found by the time the disease, the death toll of the disease increased drastically and reached so high level that it killed entire towns and cities. Methods of prevention did not help in protection from the disease and the disease is extremely contagious spread at a very fast rate. The Black Death had great demographical and social impacts and it became the cause of various researchers and social structural change. The plague left a horrible impact on the population of Europe and changed the economic status of the people. Its effects lasted for a long the European countries. The second biggest massacre of the 14th century was the hundred years war that lasted more than a hundred years, which killed 3.3 million people in Europe. The war was fought between France and its allies against the kingdom of England. Various battles were lost by the French and many soldiers were killed, injured and captured in the war. However, there was no real victor in the war truly but it affected the people of both countries and their allies until several years after the war ended. This essay will describe the impacts of Bubonic Plague and Hundred years war on the societies in the 14th century, the population who got affected, and the impacts of these two great tragedies on the world. It will also describe what measures were taken to avoid the plague and what technological advancements helped in changing the course of history throughout the war. The theme of the essay follows a record-keeping diary of an English peasant.
Impacts of Bubonic Plague
I have seen the horror with my own eyes. The bubonic plague devastated our society, culture, and economy of all the European countries. As there were no methods of epidemic control the disease spread in very short time. Whole cities died and streets and towns showed a horrible picture of misery and suffering of European people. The economy of the country was demolished and the difference between rich and the poor demolished. Many servants took hold of their owner’s properties and possessions when their owners died. My fellow peasants working in the fields refused to work anymore and this caused a famine situation in the country. The law enforcement situation was destroyed, the crime rate got high and people started killing each other for food and facilities.
We all were scared from the disease. Though there was no cure found the medical experts of the time presented prevention as the only solution to the epidemic. The people took help of religion as some of them interpreted it as a “Wrath of God”. They tried all possible ways to find the cure. Used leeches to suck the blood, tried to cut the swellings but none of them worked. Some of the noble people who feared that this epidemic will wipe out their race even started marrying young women who seemed to have developed immunity against the disease. I have seen many young women forced to marry English nobles for money.
This epidemic caused a cultural redefinition in the European people. Europe which at that time famous for its concepts of society and collective benefits changed to a jungle culture of savage people, where people did anything to survive even if they have to kill a thousand. The Roman Catholic priests who were considered a connection to God were used for the treatment of the disease. We trusted our priests but they too were no help
The Aftermath of Bubonic Plague
The savage nightmare of bubonic plague haunted us for centuries. It caused a substantial change in the cultural and political stability of the country. It has been claimed that bubonic plague worsens the present economic condition of Europe. As the country lost most of the people, the economic system got in hands of cruel and savage people who took control of available land and resources and exploited the people’s misery. The population, which was already weakened by the rich friendly economic system, collapsed as the available people for jobs and available resources were lost.
I took my wife and my little John and Elsa and left the area of misery for I had heard there was this cold part of the country were plague was not so severe. I quit my job and told my landlord I am never coming back. The labors panicked by the current epidemic and refused to work anymore given the present conditions of wages and available resources of life. Most of the peasants refused to work in the fields and industries and the availability of labors in the workplaces drastically decreased. The rich owners when saw the current situation offered higher wages to labors and it started a competition between owners to acquire cheap labor for themselves.
The Bubonic plague destroyed the very concept of society. It changed our concepts of divinity and religion and we started seeing the epidemic as a curse of God that was brought upon us due to our mistakes. It changed concepts of people about religion differently. Some people continued to believe in God while some changed their concepts about religion. When they saw Catholic priests failing to provide them refuge and cure of the disease they started questioning their purpose and lost faith in them. I was one of them who started losing faith in God too, but my wife and I stood strong and believed that we will get through this .The priests who were once considered a connection with God were believed to be helpless themselves and this resulted in the loss of people’s faith in them and the religion. Least of all it changed the perception of people about the disease and their prevention. They understood the need of a cure for diseases and started improving their way of life to avoid disease outbreaks and chance of chronic epidemics.
The Britian and French war
After I left farming and settled with my family in Berkshire, another curse fell upon us when conflict of throne ownership started between our and French king. The war that stretched to a span of over a hundred years was initiated when the emperor of England claimed himself as the rightful heir to the throne and refused to see a French owner of throne. This war affected both the population of the countries and their friendly countries. The war included over a hundred battles that were fought in different years between France and England of which some were won by the French and some by the English armies. These battles were fought on the disputed boundaries of France and England and both countries tried to take over the other and get hold of the power of the throne.
The Battle of Cadzand that was fought on the island of Cadzand, Flanders was among the first battles of the war. This battle took place in the year 1337. The English troops were commanded by Sir Walter Manny who defeated the French troops by the use of their advanced weapons. As I had to earn livelihood I started working in the British forgery where these Longbows were made. The weapons used in this war by British armies offered them a great advantage in fighting by staying at a safe distance. Our troops used their Longbows to fire arrows on the island defense armies, which gave them a positive edge in the battle. This battle was meant for boosting the confidence of British armies as Cadzand was not protected by French armies like they protected their other parts.
Our armies had no developed naval fleets and this became the reason why we lost the Battle of Arnemuiden. This battle was the first battle between British and French that was fought on water, and the first battle in which. The French had an advantage in this war as they had many big ships called “Carracks” that were equipped with big artillery guns. The French with the help of these artilleries and their special crossbows won this war and took hold of the Arnemuiden island.
The war provided the countries with new tactics of warfare and encouraged them in having the power of weapons and ships. The advantages countries had in the war gave them insight about the needs in war. They understood the need for specialized weapons and learned how important it is to protect their main islands.
We the ordinary people were living in fear since the war started and I gave my best to provide support to my country till I lost grip of my hand. However, losing our loved ones and our precious beautiful lands we never lost hope and continued our struggle. It had been twenty years since the war started and my other family members who stayed in central parts of Britian were either dead or lost. The nobility of the country never suffered like us. Most of our societies came in control of the French and they started their savage control on our economy and employement. They hired most of our people as servants, took our families from us and forced us to serve them. Me and my wife also worked for a French landlord who had a clothing business. Now my hands are weak and my eyes losing their sight but in this hopeless time only one thing kept me going and that is the love of my county, and my King. My little John has just joined the British army and he is serving for his country like his father did.
The Bubonic plague and the Britain-French war both changed the course of history. The Black Death killed almost half of the European population and the war killed thirty million people collectively in France and United Kingdom. The people during Black Death tried their best to find solutions to the epidemic but none of their efforts were fruitful. The disease made adverse effects on the society, economy and changed their religious concepts. Whereas the French-British war took livelihood of people and many people lost their properties and loved ones during these hundred years. However, both the tragedies resulted in huge loss of lives, and it was the common people who suffered the most.
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Whittington, Kody E. “The Social Impact of the Hundred Years War on the Societies of England and France.” (2016).
Ziegler, Philip. The black death. Faber & Faber, 2013.