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1300 - Black death, Lollardy, Revolts

Black Death

Black death was a bubonic plague spread all over England; It was called Black death because the body went dark after death. It was caused by fleas of rats; the mortality was very high and some villages were depopulated. Finally the food prices doubled in a single year and labourers demanded on higher wages.
The spread of Black death influenced the economy, in fact lords began to use their lands for sheep farming to produce a wool that was trade to all Europe.
People though that the black death was a punishment from God to the Church in fact abbots and bishops were great landowners but the didn’t help pour people.


In the 14th century there was an important religion reformist movement called “Lollardy”; the leader of this movement was John Wycliffe who condemned the doctrine of transubstantiation of the bread and wine of the Eucharist. This movement was supported by non-academics, merchants and lesser clergy.

Peasants revolt

Under Richard II the first Parliament levied a new tax called “poll-tax” on every person older then fourteen; lay people paid 4 pence instead clergy paid 12 pence. This tax caused the discontent of people that exploded in the “peasants revolt” of the 1381. The rebels burned the document that maintained the ties to the lend and lords. The leaders were John Ball and Wat Tyler who was killed in the meeting with king. The king and the barons promised to help them but they didn’t respect these promises and punished the rebels.

New middle class

In the 14th was born new middle class. The freemen who owned land, called “yeomen”, profited from higher food prices, and sheep farmers made money from the wool and created new jobs like spinners, dyres and weavers.
The worker were organised in groups called “guilds” based of payment of their members; they controlled the quality of goods, regulated prices and wages, organised fairs and in the feast days prepared a theatre place from biblical events

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