CHAPTER 12 The Crisis of the Later Middle Ages

After reading and studying this chapter you should be able to: 1. 2. 3. explain what the Black Death was, why it occurred, and how it spread throughout Europe. discuss the role of Dante, Chaucer, and Villon in the transition from Latin to vernacular languages and literature. explain the reasons for the decline of the influence of religion and the Church. occurred. 4. explain why the Black Death left some people better off, and why greater ethnic-racial conflict

The fourteenth century was a time of disease, war, crime, violence, and ethnic-racial conflicts. The art and literature of the period are full of the portrayal of death, just as the historical accounts are full of tales of conflict and violence. There were several major causes for this century of human suffering. Natural disaster-including changes in climate and horrible new diseases-attacked Europe. A long series of wars between France and England not only brought death and economic ruin but increased personal violence and crime as well. In addition, a serious shortage of labor, created by the bubonic plague, resulted in intense social conflict between workers and landlords. Economic crisis during the century also resulted in a bitter struggle between urban workers and their guild masters. The church lost power and prestige, partly because of the religious disillusionment that accompanied the plague. In short, the institutional church failed to fill the spiritual vacuum left by the series of disasters. A more immediate reason for the decline of the church’s influence and prestige was the Babylonian Captivity and the Great Schism. The call for reform, often in the form of the conciliar movement, by people such as Marsiglio of Padua and John Wyclif, was a signal of things to come in the sixteenth century. The disillusionment with the organized church also led to greater lay independence and, ultimately, ideas of social and political equality. The wars actually fostered the development of constitutionalism in England. But this century of disaster was also a century of some change for the good of ordinary people. It is in this light that the chapter examines some important changes in marriage practices, family relations, and the life of the people. The decline in population meant that those who survived had better food and higher wages. Peasants in western Europe used the labor-shortage problem to demand higher wages and freedom from serfdom. Meanwhile, landlords tried to shift the cost of war and the increase in expenses to their peasants. These circumstances often resulted in conflict between the peasants and their lords. The migrations of peoples from the European heartland to the frontier regions of Ireland, the Baltic, eastern Europe, and Spain led to ethnic friction-largely between native peoples and new settlers. Economic difficulties led to ethnic consciousness and spawned a vicious racism.

which killed millions. Diseases killed many people and animals. Wages increased and labor productivity increased as did per-capita wealth. c. and nuns cared for the sick. Fewer calories meant increased susceptibility to disease and less energy for growing food. Economies slowed down and population growth came to a halt. d. The psychological consequences of the plague were enormous: pessimism. 3. Poor harvests led to famines in the years 1315-1322. 2. A vaccine was not developed until 1947. The social and cultural consequences of the Black Death 1. a. B. Genoese ships brought the bubonic plague-the Black Death-to Europe in 1347. the grandson of the French king Philip the Fair. Some claim that it came from the east by way of the Crimea. Priests. 1. In Hungary. recurred often and as late as 1700. type-D blood people may have been immune. the pneumonic form was transmitted by people. Most people had no rational explanation for the disease. The bubonic form of the disease was transmitted by rats. 1. Society became divided and full of fear. Pathology and care 1. a. and out of ignorance and fear many blamed it on Jews. The Hundred Years’ War (ca. Its last occurrence was in France in 1721. labor shortage. I. b. The bacillus lived in fleas that infested black rats. The disease. gross sensuality. and as the clergy were killed off even women performed the services of priests. English kings tried to regulate the food supply. b. D. and flagellantism. The Black Death A. In the towns the plague meant population decline. 2.STUDY OUTLINE Use this outline to preview the chapter before you read a particular section in your textbook and then as a self-check to test your reading comprehension after you have read the chapter section. 2. II. It spread to central Europe and eastward-although its toll was less in Poland. B. and high inflation. C. . 1. Weak governments were unable to deal with these problems. Prelude to disaster A. Starving people turned against rich people and Jews. The causes of the war 1. C. 2. causing thousands of Jews to be murdered. but failed. claimed the French crown by seizing the duchy of Aquitaine in 1337. monks. 3. 4. Artists and writers became obsessed with death. 1337-1453) A. Unsanitary and overcrowded cities were ideal breeding grounds for the black rats. Edward III of England. The demand for slaves increased. a. III. religious fervor.

The “Commons” (knights and burgesses) acquired the right to approve all taxes and developed its own organization. neither the king nor the provincial assemblies wanted a national assembly. 2. The popular response to the war 1. The war meant opportunity for economic or social mobility for poor knights. The war meant economic and population decline for both France and England. The battles took place in France and the Low Countries. Both the French and the English saw military adventure as an excuse to avoid domestic problems. In France. 2. It left Rome poverty-stricken. Joan of Arc and France’s victory 1. -a. 2. 3. Costs and consequences 1. criminals. enjoyed its final days of glory during the war. French barons backed Edward’s claim as a way to thwart the centralizing goals of their king. Chivalry. Pope Gregory XI brought the papacy back to Rome in 1377. 2. In England. At the Battle of Crécy (1346). was elected. B. 3. England and Germany recognized Pope Urban VI. returning soldiers caused social problems. The course of the war to 1419 1. The Babylonian Captivity badly damaged papal prestige. D. 5. The decline of medieval chivalry 1. 2. a. particularly in England. and the two popes both claimed to be legitimate.2. 4. The schism brought the church into disrepute and wakened the religious faith of many. C. but then Urban VI alienated the church hierarchy in his zeal to reform the church. b. F. Joan of Are participated in the lifting of the British siege of Orleans in 1429. the English disregarded the chivalric code and used new military tactics: the longbow and the cannon. A new pope. and great nobles. 3. Clement VII. Chivalry and feudal society glorified war. The pope had lived at Avignon since the reign of King Philip the Fair of France and thus was subject to French control. 2. E. C. 3. The decline of the church’s prestige A. She was turned over to the English and burned as a heretic in 1431. The war encouraged the growth of parliamentary government. 4. Taxes on wool to finance the war caused a slump in the English wool trade. The war generated feelings of nationalism in England and France. IV. The Great Schism (1378-1417) 1. Clement VII. B. Flemish wool merchants supported the English claim to the crown. The English won major battles at Poitiers (1356) and Agincourt (1415) and had advanced to Paris by 1419. b. The Babylonian Captivity (1309-1377) 1. a code of conduct for the knightly class. 2. while France and others recognized the antipope. Royal propaganda for war and plunder was strong on both sides. The conciliar movement .

fur-collar crime. Major peasant revolts against the nobility occurred in France in 1358 (the Jacquerie). French peasants were angry about taxes. Marsiglio of Padua had claimed in 1324. Divorce did not exist. 2. lay people increasingly took over church management from the clergy. Women were increasingly excluded from guilds. a. The execution of William Wallace illustrated the violence in society. . Marriage and the family 1. 5. C. a. 5. usually governed the decision to marry. 2. a. His followers. b. 6. Opportunities to join guilds declined in the fourteenth century. 1363-1484. 2. such as bullbaiting and bearbaiting. Because governments were not able to stop abuses. In England. V. 3. Peasant revolts 1. 2. 4. called Lollards. extortion. Marriage usually came at 16 to 18 years for women and later for men. Cruel sports. 1380. Economic factors. D. An attempt in 1409 to depose both popes and select another led to a threefold schism. and terrorism by the upper classes were widespread. and drunkenness reflected the violence and frustrations of the age. a.1. B. Strikes and riots became frequent. Conciliarists believed that church authority rested in councils representing the peoplenot the authority of the pope. Fur-collar crime 1. 4. outlaws such as Robin Hood sought to protect the people. Legalized prostitution existed in urban areas and was the source of wealth for some women. Life in the parish 1. The popularity of the Robin Hood legends symbolized the deep resentment of aristocratic corruption and abuse. food shortages. Because of the crisis within the church. disseminated his ideas widely. and 1420. that authority within the church should rest with a church council and not the pope and that the church was subordinate to the state. John Wyclif attacked papal authority and called for even more radical reform of the church. The life of the people in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries A. and other circumstances. He believed that Christians should read the Bible for themselves. The land and the parish were the centers of life. a. Finally. Wyclif’s ideas were spread to Bohemia by John Hus. prompting the first English translation of the Bible. nobles returning from war had little to do and were in need of income. Kidnapping. Many people did not observe church regulations and married without a church ceremony. in Defensor Pacts. b. a. 4. the council at Constance (1414-1418) ended the schism with the election of Pope Martin V. b. 3. 3. Fur-collar crime was crime committed by nobility-a phenomenon on the increase in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. rather than romantic love. and in England in 1381. thus they resorted to crime.

c. and protest against taxes. peasants were better off. “Race” meant language. anti-aristocratic sentiment. Germany. Workers in Italy (the ciompi). d. . One cause of the Revolt of 1381 was the lords’ attempt to freeze wages. e. 1. King Richard II and his nobles tricked the peasants into ending the revolt. and Spain also revolted. Earlier (twelfth and thirteenth century) migrations led to peoples of different ethnic-racial background living side by side. VI. The 1381 revolt in England was due to economic grievances. and law—not biological anthropological classification. Race and ethnicity on the frontiers A. In general. 2.b. the revolts were due to rising expectations. custom.

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