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The Black Death and the Transformation of the West


“The Black Death and the Trnsformation of the West”, David Herlihy

The article by David Herlihy highlights the disaster of the black death troughout Europe and north during theperiod of 1347-1351 which brough immesesuffering to the people. It was a periodof not only demographic collapse in Europe but also the great shock to the people who sufferd econoimically, social collapse andn psychological collapse. The economy had gone down so badly that the survivors of black death were struggling to cope with the economy. The black death broke the Malthusian deadlock but also brough the cultural shifts on the face of Europe.

The Writer’s Arguments

The black death was the outbreak of plague in Europe cause by bacillus pests which emerged out of Mongolia and moved into population from black sea. The merchants got the disease in the Mediterranean while the maritme growth was able to spredad the disease even more during 1351. It was the ill series of epidemics which was most destructive one. The writer Herlihy claims that the modern plague is a slow moving process, he betrays the epidemiology of plague with his theory. The author argues that population of gray rats did not exist, he confused the black rats with gray rats whichweakens his aspects of work. the writer claimed that the cause of black death and epidemiology was incorrect and a strain of yersinia petis maybe involved.

The thesis is simple which betrays the explaination of spreading of disease. The primary emphasis of author is is that populations had already beganto decline before the black death, therefore it is a possibility that a crisis would have occurred earlier, y, Herlihy also downplays the possible consequences of famine and malnutrition on the spreading of disease. His decisions and conclusions lacked substantial power and persuation which reject the Marxist theory.

By rejecting the Marxist theory, the author suggests that this argument might be true in the feudel areas as Normandy but not possible in Tuscany. Herliye also argues that the effects of overall disease were posiive for the human society in Europe. The first disaster brought a lot of economic disaster but whenthe plague abated, a subsequent wave of diases striked that caused the shortage of workers. It became the reason for the demographic collapse due to lack of labor.

The article states that advances in technology also occurred before the spreading of plague and impressive technological achievements were made; the thesis of author does not support that.

The fact is that the birth rates decreased due to disease because men would not marry women; the flaws also appeared in the argument that the industrial revolution was brought after the plague. One cannot ignore the importance of poor classes as compared to elites. The author also ignores the prechecks on the elite population before the arrival of plague. Healso took notice of a fear and a breakdown of leadership which resulted in the persecution of jews. The church leadership also collapsed. There is a lack of evidence in demographic clams. The debate over contagion is also contradictory by author due to evidence presented by McNeil. The lack of religiosity also seemed peculiar. However the plague brought many changes to the society after the black death including the demographic collapse. The overall strength of book was the arguments of various researchers which proved that author was contradictory in his claims. The weakness is that the book is not much valuable for the discussion of black death in the Europe because it lacks a great deal of nuance and complexity.

References N.p., 2018. Web. 21 Apr. 2018.

Herlihy, David. The Black Death And The Transformation Of The West. 1985. Print.



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