No Black Death

Jun 2006
268
#1
From wiki ---- The result of the plague was not just a massive decline in population. It irrevocably changed Europe's social structure, was a disastrous blow to Europe's predominant organized religion, the Roman Catholic Church, caused widespread persecutions of minorities like Jews and lepers, and created a general mood of morbidity that influenced people to live for the moment, unsure of their daily survival.
So, what how would the forteenth and fifteenth centuries have played out with no Black Death (1347–1350)? Any ideas?
 
Aug 2006
78
Salinas, CA
#2
Very interesting question! (I wish I had time to think about it right now.)

Kim Stanley Robinson posited the opposite question in THE YEARS OF RICE AND SALT, where the Black Death wiped out almost ALL of Europe's population and Asian and Islamic culture flourished.
 
Aug 2006
275
#3
- Democracy wouldnt be as prevalant or may not exist at all.
- Feudalism would most likely still be used or a branch of feudalism.
- London wouldnt be as sanitary.
- Peasants would still be oppresed.
- More cats and dogs would be alive.
 
Sep 2006
168
#6
The English language may have become extinct. For some reason the Plague took after Anglo-Norman government officials with a vengeance. Because so many lawyers and judges (hey the Plague wasn’t all bad) died English managed to replace French as the language of government. And since the clergy took a leading role in tending the sick they too died out in great number. This meant that English replaced Latin as the language of religion and academia.
 

Comet

Forum Staff
Aug 2006
8,688
IA
#7
flaja said:
The English language may have become extinct. For some reason the Plague took after Anglo-Norman government officials with a vengeance. Because so many lawyers and judges (hey the Plague wasn’t all bad) died English managed to replace French as the language of government. And since the clergy took a leading role in tending the sick they too died out in great number. This meant that English replaced Latin as the language of religion and academia.
This is an interesting interpretation of how the vernacular language came to hold in England. I agree with some of these aspects, but I think the plague had a minor role in the rise of the English language. The English langauge didn't become the language of government until the Lancastrians usurped the throne in 1399. Even then, Henry IV did a majority of his negotiationg and government functions in French. It was really Henry V that broke from this tradition. In fact, I would say the rise of Lollardy in the later part of the 14th century had more of an impact on the langauge change than did the plague. However, I think you bring up a valid point and I'm going to check it out further. This goes great with my current research so another point of view definitely helps :)
 
Sep 2006
168
#8
Comet said:
flaja said:
The English language may have become extinct. For some reason the Plague took after Anglo-Norman government officials with a vengeance. Because so many lawyers and judges (hey the Plague wasn’t all bad) died English managed to replace French as the language of government. And since the clergy took a leading role in tending the sick they too died out in great number. This meant that English replaced Latin as the language of religion and academia.
This is an interesting interpretation of how the vernacular language came to hold in England. I agree with some of these aspects, but I think the plague had a minor role in the rise of the English language. The English langauge didn't become the language of government until the Lancastrians usurped the throne in 1399. Even then, Henry IV did a majority of his negotiationg and government functions in French. It was really Henry V that broke from this tradition. In fact, I would say the rise of Lollardy in the later part of the 14th century had more of an impact on the langauge change than did the plague. However, I think you bring up a valid point and I'm going to check it out further. This goes great with my current research so another point of view definitely helps :)
This is Melvyn Bragg’s interpretation in his book The adventure of English: the biography of a language.

Actually English is considered to be the native tongue of Richard II. He did not have to have an interpreter when he negotiated with the leaders of Wat Tyler’s revolt. But it is true that Henry V was the first King of England since Harold II to use English and only English to conduct his daily affairs.

As to the Lollards- remember that Alfred The Great had Biblical and other ancient texts translated from Latin into English as a way of preserving them when so many monasteries were falling prey to the Danes. English as a language of religion and scholarship has a long history.

BTW: I consider John Wyclife to be the true founder of the Protestant Reformation- not Martin Luther. The Germans are inherently unfit to lead any movement on behalf of human freedom.
 

Comet

Forum Staff
Aug 2006
8,688
IA
#9
Yeah, I consider Wyclif as important to the Reformation as Luther. Wyclif had virtually the same ideas that Luther proposes during the 16th century. I think Wyclif would have been more successful if he had more and lasting support of the English government and if the printing press would have been invented. He definitely got the ball rolling downhill...which is something historians of the period are now beginning to recognize with more consistency.

I knew of Alfred and his bibles, but I want to say they were partial translations...what made the Wyclif bible more significant was that it was the first full translation of the bible. My knowledge of Alfred is limited, so if you could add more to this please feel free. I also knew of Richard II...most, if not, everyone knew English...but it was considered a barbaric language, so it wasnt widely used except on the local level. However, this would help explain why Richard tolerated many of the knights within his court...many of whom were Lollards. I wonder how much influence they had on Richard, if any? It would be interesting to find out.
 
Sep 2006
168
#10
Comet said:
Yeah, I consider Wyclif as important to the Reformation as Luther. Wyclif had virtually the same ideas that Luther proposes during the 16th century. I think Wyclif would have been more successful if he had more and lasting support of the English government and if the printing press would have been invented.
It’s ironic that the Reformation didn’t “officially” start in England because the English government had never had rosy relations with Rome. Even with the Norman Conquest England’s geographic isolation helped isolate the English Church from Rome. And remember Henry II and his troublesome priest Becket.

It is true what you say about the printing press. What we now take as standard English was impossible before printing because English had (and still has) so many local variants as to spelling, vocabulary and grammar. Since the first printing press in England was set up in London the Midland dialect became the model for standard English. English had been a literary language since the time of Bede. But, without the printing press the mass propagation of novel ideas was impossible.

I knew of Alfred and his bibles, but I want to say they were partial translations...what made the Wyclif bible more significant was that it was the first full translation of the bible.
In both cases the translations were from the Latin Vulgate instead of the original Hebrew and Greek. And it was translations from the original languages that were the hallmark of the Reformation.

BTW: At the time of Henry VIII’s break with Rome most English clergy could not even read English, much less the Catholics’ official Latin; so even if the Lollards had printing, I don’t know that it would have done them much good.

My knowledge of Alfred is limited, so if you could add more to this please feel free. I also knew of Richard II...most, if not, everyone knew English...but it was considered a barbaric language, so it wasnt widely used except on the local level.
I can only add the standard history of his defense of England against the Danes. My local libraries have only a few biographies of him.

BTW: Bragg points out that it was customary for the Norman nobility to all grow up with English nannies- so they all knew English even if they did not officially use English.

However, this would help explain why Richard tolerated many of the knights within his court...many of whom were Lollards. I wonder how much influence they had on Richard, if any? It would be interesting to find out.
I’ve never thought of it, but Richard’s dealings with the Peasants’ revolt, i.e., promising pardons, but executing anyway, doesn’t say much for his personal character. Either he was really a blood-thirsty tyrant or he was a weak king who could be too easily lead around by the nose by evil men. Either way he was unfit to be a king of England.
 

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