The Crisis of the Late Middle Ages
refers to a series of events in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries that brought centuries of European
prosperity and growth to a halt. Three major crises would lead to radical changes in all areas of society - they were demographic collapse, political instabilities and religious upheavals.
Some scholars contend that at the beginning of the 14th century Europe had become overpopulated. 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.J. M. Bennett and C. W. Hollister, Medieval Europe: A Short History
(New York: McGraw-Hill, 2006), p. 326. 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... Read More