The Plague: Medieval Society

ambience: bells, church Gregorian chant, women’s voices – Abby Regina Laudis

Rats are known to carry diseases, but those that scurried about in Western Europe between 1348 and 1350 helped to spread one of the world’s most ruthless plagues. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. The Bubonic Plague’s impact was profound. Nearly 40 percent of the people in Western Europe were wiped out. Norman Cantor is the author of “In the Wake of the Plague: the Black Death & the World it Made.” He tells us how the disease affected the class structure of the time.

“There’s no question that the Plague had some very broad consequences. That it lead to the increase in size and prosperity of a class of free peasantry, who bought up or inherited the land of the dead peasant neighbors, or who bought up vacant land from the landlord and it resulted in a substantially new class of free peasantry who had a very important political impact in the 15th and 16th century.”

No class or institution was spared from the ravages of the Plague.

“The church lost about forty percent of its personal, of the parish priests of the cathedral clergy. The church was hit very hard because priests would be involved in administering to the dying, and were, therefore, very susceptible to getting the disease. The result of this is that the church, in the hundred years after the Black Death, had a very difficult time staffing their parish churches and their cathedral, urban churches. They were very understaffed.”

We’ll hear more about The Plague in future programs.

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

music

The Plague: Medieval Society

The Plague not only took its toll of human life, it impacted broad areas of social, political, and religious endeavor.
Air Date:09/20/2001
Scientist:
Transcript:


ambience: bells, church Gregorian chant, women's voices - Abby Regina Laudis

Rats are known to carry diseases, but those that scurried about in Western Europe between 1348 and 1350 helped to spread one of the world's most ruthless plagues. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. The Bubonic Plague's impact was profound. Nearly 40 percent of the people in Western Europe were wiped out. Norman Cantor is the author of "In the Wake of the Plague: the Black Death & the World it Made." He tells us how the disease affected the class structure of the time.

"There's no question that the Plague had some very broad consequences. That it lead to the increase in size and prosperity of a class of free peasantry, who bought up or inherited the land of the dead peasant neighbors, or who bought up vacant land from the landlord and it resulted in a substantially new class of free peasantry who had a very important political impact in the 15th and 16th century."

No class or institution was spared from the ravages of the Plague.

"The church lost about forty percent of its personal, of the parish priests of the cathedral clergy. The church was hit very hard because priests would be involved in administering to the dying, and were, therefore, very susceptible to getting the disease. The result of this is that the church, in the hundred years after the Black Death, had a very difficult time staffing their parish churches and their cathedral, urban churches. They were very understaffed."

We'll hear more about The Plague in future programs.

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.

music