In 1348 plague ( also called “Black Death) spread all over the England, killing one third of its population. The surviving laborers were then much needed and so they could ask for higher wages. This was the beginning of a change in the social structure, the end of the feudal system. Peasant became freemen, more and more land was used for sheep farming and the wool trade became more and more important.
During Edward the first reined criticism to the wealth and corruption of the church grew. The Lollardy was the first religious reformist movement. It attacked the power of the Church and its worldliness under the leadership of John Wycliffe. The Lollards anticipated the reformation of the 16th century, but the movement was crashed and its leader were executed under Richard the second (1367-1339) who succeeded Edward the third. During his reign the peasants rebel against the growing taxes, but their rebellion was repressed in blood. The Middle class was constantly growing. Merchants became richer, some of them even loaned money to the king for merchants. Some freemen had invested their money in land. They were called “yeomen”. The work of many craftsmen was required by the cloth making industry: Spinners, Weavers, Dyers, but also others were important in the society: butchers, bakers, smiths, shoemakers, tailors and carpenters. They organised themselves in group called “guilds”. Which had the tasked of controlling price and wages, organising fairs and apprenticeship. The guild were also responsible for the staging of some religious place, which were the first form of medieval drama.