The Crisis of the Late Middle Ages was a series of events in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries that ended centuries of European stability.Three major crises led to radical changes in all areas of society: demographic collapse, political instabilities and religious upheavals.
The Great Famine of 1315–17 and Black Death of 1347–1351 reduced the population perhaps by half or more as the Medieval Warm Period came to a close and the first century of the Little Ice Age began. It took until 1500 for the European population to regain the levels of 1300.Popular revolts in late-medieval Europe and civil wars between nobles such as the Wars of the Roses were common—with France fighting internally nine times—and there were international conflicts between kings such as France and England in the Hundred Years' War.
The unity of the Roman Catholic Church was shattered by the Western Schism. The Holy Roman Empire was also in decline; in the aftermath of the Great Interregnum (1247–1273), the Empire lost cohesion and politically the separate dynasties of the various German states became more important than their common empire.
The expression "Crisis of the Late Middle Ages" is commonly used in western historiography, Crisis of the Late Middle Ages, or the Cultural, Monastic, Religious, Social, Economic, Intellectual, or Agrarian crisis of the Late Middle Ages, or a national or regional modifier, e.g. Catalan or French crisis.especially in English and German, and somewhat less among other western European scholarship to refer individually or collectively to different crises besetting Europe in the 14th and 15th centuries. The expression often carries a modifier to refer more specifically to one or another aspect of Late Middle Age crisis, such as the Urban
By 1929, the French historian Marc Bloch was already writing about the effects of the crisis of the Late Middle Ages,and by mid-century there were academic debates being held about it. In his 1981 article Late Middle Age Agrarian Crisis or Crisis of Feudalism?, Peter Kriedte reprises some of the early works in the field from historians writing in the 1930s, including Marc Bloch, Henri Pirenne, Wilhelm Abel, and Michael Postan. Referred to in Italian as the "Crisis of the 14th Century", Giovanni Cherubini alluded to the debate that already by 1974 had been going on "for several decades" in French, British, American, and German historiography.
Arno Borst (1992) states that it "is a given that fourteenth century Latin Christianity was in a crisis", goes on to say that the intellectual aspects and how universities were affected by the crisis is underrepresented in the scholarship hitherto ("When we discuss the crisis of the Late Middle Ages, we consider intellectual movements beside religious, social, and economic ones"), and gives some examples.
Some question whether "crisis" is the right expression for the period at the end of the Middle Ages and the transition to Modernity. In his 1981 article The End of the Middle Ages: Decline, Crisis or Transformation? Donald Sullivan addresses this question, claiming that scholarship has neglected the period and viewed it largely as a precursor to subsequent climactic events such as the Renaissance and Reformation.
In his "Introduction to the History of the Middle Ages in Europe", Mitre Fernández wrote in 2004: "To talk about a general crisis of the Late Middle Ages is already a commonplace in the study of medieval history."
Heribert Müller, in his 2012 book on the religious crisis of the late Middle Ages, discussed whether the term itself was in crisis:
No doubt the thesis of the crisis of the late Middle Ages has itself been in crisis for some time now, and hardly anyone considered an expert in the field would still profess it without some ifs and buts, and especially so in the case of German Medieval historians.
In his 2014 historiographical article about the crisis in the Middle Ages, Peter Schuster quotes the historian Léopold Genicot's 1971 article "Crisis: From the Middle Ages to Modern Times: "Crisis is the word which comes immediately to the historian's mind when he thinks of the fourteenth and the fifteenth centuries."
Some scholars contend that at the beginning of the 14th century, Europe had become overpopulated. [ clarification needed ] By the 14th century frontiers had ceased to expand and internal colonization was coming to an end, but population levels remained high.
The Medieval Warm Period ended sometime towards the end of the 13th century, bringing the "Little Ice Age"and harsher winters with reduced harvests. In Northern Europe, new technological innovations such as the heavy plough and the three-field system were not as effective in clearing new fields for harvest as they were in the Mediterranean because the north had poor, clay-like soil. Food shortages and rapidly inflating prices were a fact of life for as much as a century before the plague. Wheat, oats, hay and consequently livestock, were all in short supply.
Their scarcity resulted in malnutrition, which increases susceptibility to infections due to weakened immune systems. In the autumn of 1314, heavy rains began to fall, which were the start of several years of cold and wet winters.The already weak harvests of the north suffered and the seven-year famine ensued. In the years 1315 to 1317 a catastrophic famine, known as the Great Famine, struck much of North West Europe. It was arguably the worst in European history, perhaps reducing the population by more than 10%.
Most governments instituted measures that prohibited exports of foodstuffs, condemned black market speculators, set price controls on grain and outlawed large-scale fishing. At best, they proved mostly unenforceable and at worst they contributed to a continent-wide downward spiral. The hardest hit lands, like England, were unable to buy grain from France because of the prohibition, and from most of the rest of the grain producers because of crop failures from shortage of labor. Any grain that could be shipped was eventually taken by pirates or looters to be sold on the black market.
Meanwhile, many of the largest countries, most notably England and Scotland, had been at war, using up much of their treasury and creating inflation. In 1337, on the eve of the first wave of the Black Death, England and France went to war in what became known as the Hundred Years' War. This situation was worsened when landowners and monarchs such as Edward III of England (r. 1327–1377) and Philip VI of France (r. 1328–1350), raised the fines and rents of their tenants out of a fear that their comparatively high standard of living would decline.
The European economy entered a vicious circle in which hunger and chronic, low-level debilitating disease reduced the productivity of labourers, and so the grain output was reduced, causing grain prices to increase.[ citation needed ] Standards of living fell drastically,[ dubious ] diets grew more limited, and Europeans as a whole experienced more health problems.[ citation needed ]
When a typhoid epidemic emerged, many thousands died in populated urban centres, most significantly Ypres (now in Belgium). In 1318 a pestilence of unknown origin, sometimes identified as anthrax, targeted the animals of Europe, notably sheep and cattle, further reducing the food supply and income of the peasantry.
As Europe moved out of the Medieval Warm Period and into the Little Ice Age, a decrease in temperature and a great number of devastating floods disrupted harvests and caused mass famine. The cold and the rain proved to be particularly disastrous from 1315 to 1317 in which poor weather interrupted the maturation of many grains and beans, and flooding turned fields rocky and barren.Scarcity of grain caused price inflation, as described in one account of grain prices in Europe in which the price of wheat doubled from twenty shillings per quarter in 1315 to forty shillings per quarter by June of the following year. Grape harvests also suffered, which reduced wine production throughout Europe. The wine production from the vineyards surrounding the Abbey of Saint-Arnould in France decreased as much as eighty percent by 1317. During this climatic change and subsequent famine, Europe's cattle were struck with Bovine Pestilence, a pathogen of unknown identity.
The pathogen spread throughout Europe from Eastern Asia in 1315 and reached the British Isles by 1319.Manorial accounts of cattle populations in the year between 1319 and 1320, places a sixty-two percent loss in England and Wales alone. In these countries, some correlation can be found between the places where poor weather reduced crop harvests and places where the bovine population was particularly negatively affected. It is hypothesized that both low temperatures and lack of nutrition lowered the cattle populations' immune systems and made them vulnerable to disease. The mass death and illness of cattle drastically affected dairy production, and the output did not return to its pre-pestilence amount until 1331. Much of the medieval peasants' protein was obtained from dairy, and milk shortages likely caused nutritional deficiency in the European population. Famine and pestilence, exacerbated with the prevalence of war during this time, led to the death of an estimated ten to fifteen percent of Europe's population.
The Black Death was a particularly devastating epidemic in Europe during this time, and is notable due to the number of people who succumbed to the disease within the few years the disease was active. It was fatal to an estimated thirty to sixty percent of the population where the disease was present. [ citation needed ]While there is some question of whether it was a particularly deadly strain of Yersinia pestis that caused the Black Death, research indicates no significant difference in bacterial phenotype. Thus environmental stressors are considered when hypothesizing the deadliness of the Black Plague, such as crop failures due to changes in weather, the subsequent famine, and an influx of host rats into Europe from China. The Black Death was so devastating that a comparable plague in terms of virulence had not been seen since the Justinian plague, before the Medieval warm period. This gap in plague activity during the Medieval Warm Period contributes to the hypothesis that climate conditions would have affected Europe's susceptibility to disease when the climate began to cool during the arrival of the Little Ice Age in the 13th century.
Before the 14th century, popular uprisings were not unknown, for example, uprisings at a manor house against an unpleasant overlord, but they were local in scope. This changed in the 14th and 15th centuries when new downward pressures on the poor[ clarification needed ] resulted in mass movements and popular uprisings across Europe. To indicate how common and widespread these movements became, in Germany between 1336 and 1525 there were no less than sixty phases of militant peasant unrest.
The unity of the Roman Catholic Church was shattered by the Western Schism. The Holy Roman Empire was also in decline in the aftermath of the Great Interregnum (1247–1273); the Empire lost cohesion, and politically the separate dynasties of the various German states became more important than their common empire.
Scholars such as David Herlihy and Michael Postan use the term Malthusian limit to express and explain some tragedies as resulting from overpopulation. In his 1798 Essay on the Principle of Population, Thomas Malthus asserted that eventually humans would reproduce so greatly that they would go beyond the limits of necessary resources; once they reach this point, catastrophe becomes inevitable. In his book, The Black Death and the Transformation of the West, professor David Herlihy explores this idea of plague as an inevitable crisis imposed on humanity to control the population and human resources. In the book The Black Death; A Turning Point in History? (ed. William M. Bowsky) he "implies that the Black Death's pivotal role in late medieval society ... was now being challenged. Arguing on the basis of a neo-Malthusian economics, revisionist historians recast the Black Death as a necessary and long overdue corrective to an overpopulated Europe."
Herlihy also examined the arguments against the Malthusian crisis, stating "if the Black Death was a response to excessive human numbers it should have arrived several decades earlier" : 34in consequence of the population growth of years before the outbreak of the Black Death. Herlihy also brings up other, biological factors that argue against the plague as a "reckoning" by arguing "the role of famines in affecting population movements is also problematic. The many famines preceding the Black Death, even the 'great hunger' of 1315 to 1317, did not result in any appreciable reduction in population levels". Herlihy concludes the matter stating, "the medieval experience shows us not a Malthusian crisis but a stalemate, in the sense that the community was maintaining at stable levels very large numbers over a lengthy period" and states that the phenomenon should be referred to as more of a deadlock, rather than a crisis, to describe Europe before the epidemics.
The Black Death was a bubonic plague pandemic occurring in Afro-Eurasia from 1346 to 1353. It is the most fatal pandemic recorded in human history, causing the death of 75–200 million people in Eurasia and North Africa, peaking in Europe from 1347 to 1351. Bubonic plague is caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, but it may also cause septicaemic or pneumonic plagues.
The Crisis of the Third Century, also known as Military Anarchy or the Imperial Crisis, was a period in which the Roman Empire nearly collapsed under the combined pressures of barbarian invasions and migrations into the Roman territory, civil wars, peasant rebellions, political instability, Roman reliance on barbarian mercenaries known as foederati and commanders nominally working for Rome, plague, debasement of currency, and economic depression.
A famine is a widespread scarcity of food, caused by several factors including war, inflation, crop failure, population imbalance, or government policies. This phenomenon is usually accompanied or followed by regional malnutrition, starvation, epidemic, and increased mortality. Every inhabited continent in the world has experienced a period of famine throughout history. In the 19th and 20th century, generally characterized Southeast and South Asia, as well as Eastern and Central Europe, in terms of having suffered most number of deaths from famine. The numbers dying from famine began to fall sharply from the 2000s. Since 2010, Africa has been the most affected continent in the world.
Louis X, called the Quarrelsome, the Headstrong, or the Stubborn, was King of France from 1314 to 1316 and King of Navarre as Louis I, from 1305 until his death in 1316. He abolished slavery, emancipated serfs who could pay their freedom, and readmitted Jews in the kingdom.
The Great Famine of 1315–1317 was the first of a series of large-scale crises that struck Europe early in the 14th century. Most of Europe was affected. The famine caused many deaths over an extended number of years and marked a clear end to the period of growth and prosperity from the 11th to the 13th centuries.
Medieval demography is the study of human demography in Europe and the Mediterranean during the Middle Ages. It estimates and seeks to explain the number of people who were alive during the Medieval period, population trends, life expectancy, family structure, and related issues. Demography is considered a crucial element of historical change throughout the Middle Ages.
The Late Middle Ages or Late Medieval Period was the period of European history lasting from AD 1250 to 1500. The Late Middle Ages followed the High Middle Ages and preceded the onset of the early modern period.
Peralada is a village in the province of Girona, Catalonia, Spain. It was the home of the Frankish Counts of Peralada who controlled this portion of the Marca Hispanica before becoming part of the lands held by the Count of Barcelona.
The consequences of the Black Death peaked in Europe between 1348 and 1350 with an estimated one-third of the continent's population ultimately succumbing to the disease. Often simply referred to as "The Plague", the Black Death had both immediate and long-term effects on human population across the world as one of the most devastating pandemics in human history. These included a series of biological, social, economic, political and religious upheavals which had profound effects on the course of world history, especially the History of Europe. Symptoms of the Black Death included painful and enlarged or swollen lymph nodes, headaches, chills, fatigue, vomiting, and fevers, and within 3-5 days, 80% of the victims would be dead. Historians estimate that it reduced the total world population from 475 million to between 350 and 375 million. In most parts of Europe, it took nearly 80 years for population sizes to recover, and in some areas more than 150 years.
Sir Michael Moissey Postan FBA was a British historian. He was also known as Munia Postan.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to the Middle Ages:
During the Middle Ages from the 5th century AD to the 16th century, Western Europe saw a blooming period for the mining industry. The first important mines here were those at Goslar in the Harz mountains, taken into commission in the tenth century. Another famous mining town is Falun in Sweden where copper has been mined since the thirteenth century.
The Black Death was a bubonic plague pandemic, which reached England in June 1348. It was the first and most severe manifestation of the second pandemic, caused by Yersinia pestis bacteria. The term Black Death was not used until the late 17th century.
This article covers the Economic history of Europe from about 1000 AD to the present. For the context, see History of Europe.
The Soviet famine of 1946–1947 was a major famine in the Soviet Union that lasted from mid-1946 to the winter of 1947 to 1948.
The medieval English saw their economy as comprising three groups – the clergy, who prayed; the knights, who fought; and the peasants, who worked the landtowns involved in international trade. Over the next five centuries the economy would at first grow and then suffer an acute crisis, resulting in significant political and economic change. Despite economic dislocation in urban and extraction economies, including shifts in the holders of wealth and the location of these economies, the economic output of towns and mines developed and intensified over the period. By the end of the period, England had a weak government, by later standards, overseeing an economy dominated by rented farms controlled by gentry, and a thriving community of indigenous English merchants and corporations.
The economics of English agriculture in the Middle Ages is the economic history of English agriculture from the Norman invasion in 1066, to the death of Henry VII in 1509. England's economy was fundamentally agricultural throughout the period, though even before the invasion the market economy was important to producers. Norman institutions, including serfdom, were superimposed on an existing system of open fields.
The economics of English towns and trade in the Middle Ages is the economic history of English towns and trade from the Norman invasion in 1066, to the death of Henry VII in 1509. Although England's economy was fundamentally agricultural throughout the period, even before the invasion the market economy was important to producers. Norman institutions, including serfdom, were superimposed on a mature network of well established towns involved in international trade. Over the next five centuries the English economy would at first grow and then suffer an acute crisis, resulting in significant political and economic change. Despite economic dislocation in urban areas, including shifts in the holders of wealth and the location of these economies, the economic output of towns developed and intensified over the period. By the end of the period, England would have a weak early modern government overseeing an economy involving a thriving community of indigenous English merchants and corporations.
The Economics of English Mining in the Middle Ages is the economic history of English mining from the Norman invasion in 1066, to the death of Henry VII in 1509. England's economy was fundamentally agricultural throughout the period, but the mining of iron, tin, lead and silver, and later coal, played an important part within the English medieval economy.
Agriculture in the Middle Ages describes the farming practices, crops, technology, and agricultural society and economy of Europe from the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 to approximately 1500. The Middle Ages are sometimes called the Medieval Age or Period. The Middle Ages are also divided into the Early, High, and Late Middle Ages. The early modern period followed the Middle Ages.
Hablar de crisis general de la Baja Edad Media europea resulta ya un lugar común dentro de los estudios de Historia medieval. Los siglos XIV y XV (el «otoño de la Edad Media», según la expresión de Huizinga) son el período de desgaste de unas estructuras materiales y mentales configuradas en las anteriores centurias y el puente hacia el Modernidad. De ahí que en distantas ocasiones se les haya querido negar una presonalidad propia. Crisis política (Guerra de los Cien Años), crisis espiritual (Cisma de Occidente, conciliarismo, movimientos heterodoxos que preludían la Reforma protestante, etc.) y, sobre todo, por lo que concierne a este capítulo, crisis económica y social.[To talk about a general crisis of the Late Middle Ages is already a commonplace in the study of medieval history. The 14th and 15th centuries (the "autumn of the Middle Ages", according to Huizinga) are the period of the superannuation of some of the physical and mental structures configured in prior centuries and the bridge toward Modernity. To the extent that it was even denied its own personality. Political crisis (the Hundred Years War) spiritual crisis (the Western Schism, conciliarism, heterodox movements which were a prelude to the Protestant Reformation, etc.) and above all, as far as this chapter is concerned, economic and social crisis.]
When we discuss the crisis of the Late Middle Ages, we consider intellectual movements beside religious, social, and economic ones, but universities are given attention only in passing, as in the collection of essays of 1984 edited by Fernand Seibt and Winfried Eberhard, Europa 1400, Die Krise des Spaetmittelalters.
2. El debat sobre la crisi de la baixa edat mitjana entre neomalthusians i marxistes en las dècadas centrals del segle XX: L'aparició, el 1949, d'un article d'Edouard Perroy sobre «l'economia encongida»8 va coŀlocar les fams de la premera meitat del segle XIV en el centre del debat sobre l'origen, la cronologia, l'abast, i els efectes de la crisis de la baixa edat mitjana; qüestió que Marc Bloch ja havia esbossat dues dècadas abans.9 Per a un corrent de la historagrafia rural, encapçalat per Michael M. Postan10 i Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie,11 les esmentades fams no són més que la manifestació d'un capgirament de la conjuntura dintre d'un cicle demogràfic i econòmic de llarga durada que s'havia iniciat a mitjan sigle X1; marquen el final dels «bons temps», de l'expansió, i l'inici d'un període d'estancament i de regressió que va cobrir, a bona part d'Europa, el segle XIV i gairebé tot el XV, i al qual s'ha designat com la «crisi de la baixa edat mitjana»12 o la «gran depresió».
12. Per a la difusió del terme crisi, a mitjan segle XX, entre els historiadors i la seva primera utilització, amb un sentit més social i politic que econòmic, vegeu M. Bourin i F. Menant, 'Avant-propos', a M. Bourin, J. Drendel, i F. Menant (ed.), "Les disettes dans la conjuncture de 1300 en Méditerranée occidentale", Roma, 2011, p.2, nota 6.
The debate about the crisis of the Late Middle Ages between Neomalthusians and Marxists in the middle of the twentieth century: The appearance in 1949 of an article by Edouard Perroy on 'the shrinking economy'8 propelled the famines of the first half of the fourteenth century into the center of the debate on the origin, chronology, scope, and effects of the crisis of the Late Middle Ages; an issue that Marc Bloch had already outlined two decades earlier.9 According to an account of rural historography headed by Michael M. Postan10 and Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie,11 the aforementioned famines are nothing more than the manifestation of a revival of the scenario within a demographic and economic cycle of long duration that had begun in the middle of the tenth century; marking the end of the 'good times' and of the expansion, and the beginning of a period of stagnation and regression that spanned, in much of Europe, the fourteenth century and almost all of the fifteenth, and which has been designated as the 'crisis of the Late Middle Ages'12 or as the 'great depression'.
12. For the spread of term crisis in the middle of the 20th century among historians and its first use, with a sense more social and political than economic, see M. Bourin and F. Menant, 'Avant-propos', in M. Bourin, J. Drendel, and F. Menant (ed.), "Les disettes dans la conjuncture de 1300 en Méditerranée occidentale", Rome, 2011, p.2, note 6.
[L]a Storia einaudiana ha compiuto un'utile opera di «adeguamento» (sul piano, naturalmente, della più larga divulgazione di buon livello) della storiografia italiana alla storiografia francese, inglese, americana, tedesca, nelle quali il problema della «crisi del Trecento» è ormai dibattuto da alcuni decenni. [The Italian historical series] Einaudi has... 'adjusted' Italian historiography (at least at the level of the more widely disseminated popularized version) to French, English, American, and German historiography, in which the problem of the 'Crisis of the Late Middle Ages' has been debated for several decades.
Modern interpretations of the period ca. 1300-1500, conventionally identified as the late Middle Ages in transalpine Europe, have received little serious attention. This lack of attention can be attributed partially to a long evident tendency to represent the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries as, at best, only the background or preparation for such climactic events as the Renaissance and the Reformation. While modern historiography has exhaustively examined the 'Renaissance Problem' the comparative neglect of the late medieval period stems largely from four centuries of viewing it primarily in relation to what was seen as more appealing or more significant eras, whether preceding, following, or overlapping it.
Krise—beginnt das Buch gleich mit einem ungebrachten, ja falschen Begriff? Denn zweifellos ist die These von der Krise des Spätmittelalters seit längerem ihrerseits in der Krise, und wohl kaum ein Kenner der Materie dürfte sich heute noch ohne Wenn und Aber zu ihr bekennen, was ihm besonderer für deutsche Mittelalthistoriker gilt. [Crisis—does the book start out with an unfounded, even incorrect term? For no doubt the thesis of the crisis of the late Middle Ages has itself been in crisis for some time now, and hardly anyone considered an expert in the field would still profess it without some ifs and buts, and especially so in the case of German Medieval historians.]
Leopold Genicot konnte bereits 1971 die Ausbildung eines festen Geschichtsbildes in der Zunft zumindest in bezug auf das spaete Mittelalter vermelden: 'Crisis is the word which comes immediately to the historian's mind when he thinks of the fourteenth and the fifteenth centuries.'[in English in the original] As early as 1971, Leopold Genicot was able to report the formation of a solid image of history among its practitioners, at least with regard to the late Middle Ages: 'Crisis is the word...'Note: Schuster is quoting a 1971 republication of Genicot in "Cambridge Economic History of Europe, Vol 1, The Agrarian Life of the Middle Ages", which appeared previously in a 1966 version.
1. Crisi del Trecento e conseguenze sociali e spirituali