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Black Death


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Author Topic: Black Death  (Read 970 times)
Lisa Wolfe
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« on: June 24, 2012, 05:59:28 pm »

Populations in crisis

In Europe, the Medieval Warm Period ended some time towards the end of the 13th century, bringing the "Little Ice Age"[16] and harsher winters with reduced harvests. In northern Europe, new technological innovations such as the heavy plough and the three-field system were not as effective in clearing new fields for harvest as they were in the Mediterranean because the north had poor clay soil,[14] and the potato, otherwise ideal for Northern Europe, was an American crop unknown in Europe at the time. Food shortages and rapidly inflating prices were a fact of life for as much as a century before the plague. Wheat, oats, hay and consequently livestock were all in short supply. Their scarcity resulted in malnutrition, which increases susceptibility to infections due to weakened immunity. Consistently high fertility rates, at five or more children per woman throughout Europe, resulted in high population growth rates and contributed to food shortages. In the autumn of 1314, heavy rains began to fall, followed by several years of cold and wet winters.[14] The already weak harvests of the north suffered and the seven-year famine ensued. In the years 1315 to 1317 a catastrophic famine, known as the Great Famine, struck much of northwest Europe. It was arguably the worst in European history, reducing the population by perhaps more than 10 percent.[14]
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