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"First, swollen lymph nodes would signal infection. Within days, these painful buboes would blacken and then burst, spewing forth pus and blood. Dark purplish patches all over the body were par for the course. The lucky ones would recover, while others would soon go on to suffer high fever and agonizing episodes of spasmodic pain, vomiting and retching while blood sometimes filled their lungs. For the fortunate, death would come quickly; others lingered in a state of delirium for days." - Jackie Rosenheck, Doctors Review, 2011. 


It is estimated that as much as a third of Europe's population perished during the years of the Black Death, from 1348 to 1350. This dramatic collapse in population contributed heavily to the upending of the traditional feudal social structure. Some regions were impacted more heavily than others, and as a result there were places where there was not enough of a work force to work the fields or tend to the animals. As a result, in addition to those who died of the plague, countless others were faced with starvation. During these desperate times, surviving Lords began to compete for peasant labour, offering more money and incentives than their rivals in order to acquire their work force.


There were major consequences to these changes. Labourers and artisans were more highly sought, and as a result began to receive higher compensation for their work. In addition, the dead of the plague and subsequent famine left behind their land, houses, businesses, ships and other property, which was quickly claimed by survivors.


Due to the social upheaval of the time, a new class of merchants and artisans began to flourish and set the stage for the coming of the Renaissance.

Black Plague Population Graph

The Curse of the Rat



Describe the way that the Black Death helped directly lead to the end of Medieval society and the birth of the Renaissance?

How the Black Death helped end the Middle Ages

The Black Plague - Read by Mr. Berrigan
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