The changes are an integral part of progress and development. It is a well-known fact that in order to gain a new level the society should go through the series of different transformation. These transformations are not always pleasant and peaceful but, in general, they are useful for the society and help it to become a better one. In this work I am going to explain how, the European world changed dramatically as a result of a series of stresses in the late 13th to the mid 15th centuries and how such events as Black Plague, the One Hundred Year’s War and the collapse of Papal Power influenced the Medieval European society.
The transformation of the Medieval society was long and painful process, which lasted approximately 150 years. The development in the years 1000-1300 brought the positive changes in agriculture, finance and trade. Growing food supply, the creation of guilds, the development of urban life, commercial revolution, the new life of learning – all these changes influenced positively on the society (Beck et al. 387-392). This is the first reason why the later changes were so dramatic for the society. They were so much unexpected that the people were simply not ready for them.
The Black Plague, which is also known as the “Black Death” was probably among the most dramatic events, which constantly changed the face of the Medieval World into the new one. When the historians talk about “The Black Death,” they mean the specific outbreak of plague that took place in Europe in the mid-14th century. The Black Death came to Europe in October of 1347, spread swiftly through most of Europe by the end of 1349 and on to Scandinavia and Russia in the 1350s” (Shell, “The Black Death”). This epidemic also came back several times during the rest of the century. These events were followed by mass fear and hysteria. The main changes in social life brought by the plague were the rise of marriage and birth rate, the increase of violence and the upward mobility. The economic effects also were quite dramatic. First of all, “surplus of goods resulted in overspending; it was swiftly followed by a shortage of goods and inflation” (Shell, “The Black Death”). The second effect was lack of laborers. The level of trust to the Church also decreased.
The One Hundred Years’ War was another historical even, which influenced on the society in the Middle Ages. It “was a long struggle between England and France over succession to the French throne. It lasted from 1337 to 1453, so it might more accurately be called the “116 Years’ War” (Wheeler, “The Hundred Years’ War”). Actually, it was the series of smaller wars and included several battles. The war involved two countries, England and France, which were among the leading ones in Europe during the Middle Ages. Nothing special, that such a massive struggle, which involved a large amount of people during the extremely long period of time, resulted into the drastic demographic, economical and political changes. England lost most of its continental territories and the insanity of the King brought it into the series of internal conflicts. On the contrary, France was able to strengthen its positions.
The third important point, which initiated the changes in the European society and brought it to the new era of development, was the collapse of Papal Power. In the Middle Ages the belief that there is one Pope, who rules the church, was extremely strong. That is why the division of the Papacy into the two ruling points, one in Avignon, France and one in Rome was a great tragedy for many people as everything that they believed in, was destroyed. Despite the fact that finally the power was re-united in Rome, “it never recovered entirely from its stay at Avignon, and from the Great Schism. The power of the popes was never again as great as it had been before the quarrel between Boniface VIII. and the King of France” (Harding, “The Story of the Middle Ages”). The respect to the Church, which was among the most important factors, which influenced the Middle Ages, was destroyed. That is why these events are so important for the formation of the new society.
To sum up, the European society went through the series of dramatic changes from the late 13th century to the mid 15th century. One of the most important factors, which influenced the changes, was the high speed of it. Such events as the Black Death, The Hundred Years’ War and the collapse of Papal Power were the events, which were “the beginning of end” for the Middle Ages. After them, the society required changes in order to adapt to the new conditions of life.