The Black Death was responsible for the beginning of the end of European Feudalism/Manoralism. As there were fewer workers, their lords were forced to pay higher wages. With higher wages, there were fewer restrictions on travel. Eventually, this would lead to a trade class/middle class.

Consequences of the Black Death

The great population loss brought favourable results to the surviving peasants in England and Western Europe. There was increased social mobility, as depopulation further eroded the peasants’ already weakened obligations to remain on their traditional holdings. Seigneurialism never recovered. Land was plentiful, wages high, and serfdom had all but disappeared. It was possible to move about and rise higher in life. Younger sons and women especially benefited. As population growth resumed, however, the peasants again faced deprivation and famine.

In Eastern Europe, by contrast, renewed stringency of laws tied the remaining peasant population more tightly to the land than ever before through serfdom.

Furthermore, the plague’s grea… Continue Reading (9 minute read)

15 thoughts on “The Black Death was responsible for the beginning of the end of European Feudalism/Manoralism. As there were fewer workers, their lords were forced to pay higher wages. With higher wages, there were fewer restrictions on travel. Eventually, this would lead to a trade class/middle class.”

  1. wjbc

    That’s one reason cited. Another is that armies of professional soldiers proved much more effective than armies of nobles, reducing the nobles’ claim on power.

    The Crusades and the rising power of Italian traders led to a wealthy, trade-based urban economy. Kings centralized power and preferred to tax nobles and pay a standing national army or mercenaries if necessary. Wealthy nobles preferred to pay taxes rather than fight for the king. As kings became more powerful the Catholic Church also became less powerful, eventually leading to Protestantism in Northern Europe.

    In short, feudalism may well have died out for a number of reasons, but the Black Death helped hasten that change. Indeed, the Black Death itself likely came to Europe because of the opening trade routes with Asia. Ships carried rats, rats carried fleas, and fleas carried bubonic plague. So one could argue that it was trade that initiated the falling dominoes.

  2. Spokane_Lone_Wolf

    Thats why researching the Middle Class civic on Civ 6’s Black Death scenario grants you victory lol

  3. QuestionableAI

    Imagine what the history books will be saying about Covid and its impact on the world.

  4. LifeWin

    Oh boy!

    So if 3/5 of y’all can just die for me, I’ll finally be able to buy that 1200sq.ft condo downtown!!

  5. Soulwindow

    Yes and no. Merchants and trade guilds had already existed. This just gave them more bargaining power.

  6. RedSonGamble

    What are they doing in the picture? They look pretty bummed out.

  7. ShalmaneserIII

    Supply and demand. People aren’t exempt from that logic.

    So if you as a worker really want to have more bargaining power in relation to your employer, the best way to get it is if half of your coworkers die.

  8. KennyBlankenship9

    Also, getting rid of a ton of mouths to feed allowed only the best land to be farmed with higher productivity, allowing people to do other things. Peasants were normally tied to the land they worked, and any decent land was already under cultivation, so they couldn’t just leave and try to make a living. With all the land going fallow when people died, that became possible.

  9. Wizards96

    I thought that the whole point of feudalism was that you didn’t have to pay peasants. They were tied to the land, no? Please correct me if I’m wrong.

  10. Fat_Laptop

    So….plague good????…….

  11. TotheHeavensorHells

    Also was a factor in growing women’s rights. All male relatives dead? *Guess* it’s ok for women to own property after all.

  12. AquiliferX

    What kind of plague do we need to end neo-feudalism?

  13. ApocalypseSpokesman

    If you remove a lot of people, but leave behind the physical resources, the ratio of resources, freedom, and space to people is increased.

    That’s what I don’t like about nuclear war and asteroid impacts. They decrease the population, which is good, but they despoil the resources, so the ratio is probably worsened on the whole.

    Pathogens are really the way to go.

    The Holy Grail, though, would be a series of hundreds of neutron bombings. But it’s never gonna happen…

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