Robert Lopez: The Commerical Revolution of the Middle Ages:
It changed the view on the Middle ages:
- Commercial revolution in middle ages: increases in agriculture,
manufacturing, and trade ; innovations in business organization and finance.
- Severe economic decline in the Late Middle Ages, 14th and 15th centuries due
to varies disasters.
Recently, historians have been revising Lopez’s statements of Late Middle Ages.
They say that it does not constitute a long period of depression but series of ups
and downs. Mideval business would survive them, adapt to them
I. CLIMATIC CHANGE
-beginning in the late 13 C, beginning of the Little Ice age. This colder climate would
last for the next 500 years. Problems were caused during the transation period. In
some years, serious droughts occur, in other years there would be deadly rainfalls.
Floods devasted the lower countries. It became so cold that the entrie Baltic ocean
froze entirely 3 times.
- Growing seasons shortened and bad harvest were more frequent, this
became serious in t he 14th century.
- 1315-1317 The Great Famine( north) occurred : grain prices sky rocketed, led
to famine. So despereate that they were eating their seeds for the next
saeason, and their draft animals. 1.5 million died.
- 1340 another great famine ( north and South):
External as well as internal wars such as revolts, revolutions, etc
Eg. 1337-1453, Hundred Years’ War ( French vs English; over who would control
southwestern France ) Although it was directly involved the french and english, it
also involves other nations. France successed in kicking England out.
- Hampered agriculture and trade: French country side destroyed and urban
centres pillaged ( during war and even peace) during periods of truce, the
royal army didn’t receive payments so the mercenaries went loose that led to
looting and raping.
- Royal taxes increased in England and France. Those taxes became
oppressive in cities that had to built. The high level of taxation had 2 results:
1. Shortage of coins and bullions that hurted the economy
2. Revolts and uprising in Paris and England in the 14th C
- French kings debased their coins to finance their war. Non precious metals
were added to the coins to make the currency go further. Caused devaluation
and inflation in the counry.
III. THE PLAGUE
1st wave in Europe 1347-51: The great Pestilence / Black Death : the deadliest worst
It was hitting a population that was already tired, starved so it was so deadly
- Began in asia, then made it way to mediterrian. Italians trading ships were
spreading the plague along the mediterrians.
- These ships were infected with rats, carrying fleas who carried plague
bacteria. When the rates died, the fleas had to find a new warm blodded
hosts : humans. The spread of the plague followed the trade routes at the
- Bubonic plagues – swelling of neck, armpits and groins. If the buboes break,
death was certain and the diease was spread to the next person
- Pneumonic Plague: through lungs causing rapid death
- Septicemic Plague: infected the bloodstream causing the skin to turn deep
purple or black . rarest form of the diease, rapid death with no chance of
Approximately 1/3 of European Population
Many villages entirely disappeared
- The elderly and children were devastated
- Death was a common theme in art, music and writing
- Death was often represented as a skeleton
- People became obsessed with death
Plague reappeared in the 1350s, 1360s, and 1370s- then outbreaks slowed
- Shortage in foodstuffs, such as grain. As it usually occurred in the farming
season. As farmers died, shortage of food.
II. POSITIVE RESULTS
- Demand for military supplies and weaponry: a business opportunity
- War devastation sparks construction boom in Europe
- Labour shortage = increased wages. Doubled or tripled. Several countries
had to pass laws to regulate awges