How Did the Bubonic Plague Affect Feudalism in Medieval Europe?

Hayley Henderson // 11 . 28 . 14

Feudalism was a temporary government system that ran a very long course. With several events that led it to its end, the Bubonic Plague was only one of them. It changed the way peasants lived in drastic, unpredictable ways. First, unlike most, the surviving peasants saw the plague as an opportunity. The few that happened to survive teased the desperate upper class, for their peasants had passed due to the rapidly spreading illness. They no longer had peasants to serve them. The remaining peasants searched for needy people to work for who were in a higher cast. Because they were in so much need, peasants stipulated them by demanding higher wages. If their pay rate was declined, they'd simply move on and look for someone else. Now having more of a role in feudalism, peasants felt greater and more powerful than lords. It almost seemed as if lords were non existent. The peasants’ bad behavior was noticed by King Edward the third. Wanting no part of it, he established a law that stated that all peasants who switched masters must return to their original one. However, the peasants ignored it, moving away to wherever they pleased. "Many peasants simply ignored the law or when they were forced to return to their former Lord’s they would simply move far away at the first chance they could get." As you can see, the Bubonic Plague had a major role in the end of Feudalism. The life of a peasant ended well for those who lived, their wages increasing.

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