Assessing Change and Continuity

In this lesson, we assessed change and continuity by comparing Europe prior to the Black Death to Europe after the Black Death. What I learned about assessing change and continuity is to make sure to get enough information. The SCIM-C strategy definitely helps with that, as it provides a great guideline to search for information with. The changes I found to be quite significant were the economic changes. As mentioned in a Slack post, I assessed the difference in medieval peasants’ wages before Yersinia Pestis started spreading to their wages after it had died down.

Surviving peasants found this to be their lucky break because they could demand higher wages and better pay from their lords. They also had an easier time getting into real estate. Before the Black Plague, many peasants were getting paid menial wages to farm, and in most places, 9/10ths of the peasants were farming just to make a living. Farming is a very hard and toilsome job, and they were getting horribly underpaid. The residing lord would often take a portion of the proceeds, similar to a tax on top of the already difficult to manage earnings.

What stayed the same, however, is the general disdain that people had for peasants. Peasants were still regarded as very low on the totem pole, even after their jobs became far higher in demand after the Black Plague. Unfortunately, this would stay true for a great many years. One of the reasons for these changes and similarities is likely the death toll. This plague wiped out 75–200 million people overall. That is an astoundingly high figure. Lifestyle changes needed to happen and wages needed to go up in order for people to keep working.