Which of the following is the best description of the economic impact of Black Death on Afro Eurasia?

The plague had large scale social and economic effects, many of which are recorded in the introduction of the Decameron. People abandoned their friends and family, fled cities, and shut themselves off from the world. Funeral rites became perfunctory or stopped altogether, and work ceased being done. Some felt that the wrath of God was descending upon man, and so fought the plague with prayer. Some felt that they should obey the maxim, "Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow you may die." The society experienced an upheaval to an extent usually only seen in controlled circumstances such as carnival. Faith in religion decreased after the plague, both because of the death of so many of the clergy and because of the failure of prayer to prevent sickness and death.

The economy underwent abrupt and extreme inflation. Since it was so difficult (and dangerous) to procure goods through trade and to produce them, the prices of both goods produced locally and those imported from afar skyrocketed. Because of illness and death workers became exceedingly scarce, so even peasants felt the effects of the new rise in wages. The demand for people to work the land was so high that it threatened the manorial holdings. Serfs were no longer tied to one master; if one left the land, another lord would instantly hire them. The lords had to make changes in order to make the situation more profitable for the peasants and so keep them on their land. In general, wages outpaced prices and the standard of living was subsequently raised.

As a consequence of the beginning of blurring financial distinctions, social distinctions sharpened. The fashions of the nobility became more extravagant in order to emphasize the social standing of the person wearing the clothing. The peasants became slightly more empowered, and revolted when the aristocracy attempted to resist the changes brought about by the plague. In 1358, the peasantry of northern France rioted, and in 1378 disenfranchised guild members revolted. The social and economic structure of Europe was drastically and irretrievably changed.

(Ed: D.S.) Courie, Leonard W. The Black Death and Peasant's Revolt. New York: Wayland Publishers, 1972; Strayer, Joseph R., ed. Dictionary of the Middle Ages. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. Vol. 2. pp. 257-267.

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The consequences of this violent catastrophe were many. A cessation of wars and a sudden slump in trade immediately followed but were only of short duration. A more lasting and serious consequence was the drastic reduction of the amount of land under cultivation, due to the deaths of so many labourers. This proved to be the ruin of many landowners. The shortage of labour compelled them to substitute wages or money rents in place of labour services in an effort to keep their tenants. There was also a general rise in wages for artisans and peasants. These changes brought a new fluidity to the hitherto rigid stratification of society.

flagellants during the Black Death

The psychological effects of the Black Death were reflected north of the Alps (not in Italy) by a preoccupation with death and the afterlife evinced in poetry, sculpture, and painting; the Roman Catholic Church lost some of its monopoly over the salvation of souls as people turned to mysticism and sometimes to excesses.

Anti-Semitism greatly intensified throughout Europe as Jews were blamed for the spread of the Black Death. A wave of violent pogroms ensued, and entire Jewish communities were killed by mobs or burned at the stake en masse.

Black Death

The economy of Siena received a decisive check. The city’s population was so diminished that the project of enlarging the cathedral was abandoned, and the death of many great painters, such as Ambrogio and Pietro Lorenzetti, brought the development of the first Sienese school to a premature end.

In England the immediate effects of the epidemic of 1349 seem to have been of short duration, and the economic decline which reached its nadir in the mid-15th century should probably be attributed rather to the pandemic recurrence of the plague.

Black Death

The study of contemporary archives suggests a mortality varying in the different regions between one-eighth and two-thirds of the population, and the French chronicler Jean Froissart’s statement that about one-third of Europe’s population died in the epidemic may be fairly accurate. The population in England in 1400 was perhaps half what it had been 100 years earlier; in that country alone, the Black Death certainly caused the depopulation or total disappearance of about 1,000 villages. A rough estimate is that 25 million people in Europe died from plague during the Black Death. The population of western Europe did not again reach its pre-1348 level until the beginning of the 16th century.

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica
This article was most recently revised and updated by Adam Augustyn.