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With the occurrence of the Black Death in 1348, the social fabric of medieval society began to breakdown. With the Black Death taking over in the European countries many parts of society began to see their fall. Areas such as family relations, gender relations, class relations, community relations and even the situations of the church were affected in this time of sickness. Throughout the duration of the Black Death many people abandoned the morals that were engraved into them in order to protect their own health.
The Black Death had a major impact on family relations. During the Black Death the family that was supposed to be the sick person’s support system ended up not completing their jobs. Many of the family members were too worried about what would happen to them if they were to care for someone with the Black Death. Children were abandoning their parents and husbands were abandoning their wives or vice versa. There was no longer a sense of need to take care of one another. The family would wait until the moment when the infected person fell asleep and then they would leave with no return. With the family dynamic changing, the social fabric was beginning to break down. The families felt the need to change their ways especially when they were seeing that families were being carried out on one bier because they attempted to help each other but fell to the illness instead. When you see the people that were caring for one another dying it can deter a person from wanting to care for someone with the same illness that killed them. Once the wave of Black Death was over, the survivors married each other. With all these new marriages, the way that society works is changing because it is no longer the same families creating the medieval society.
Another thing that was affected by the Black Death was gender relations. In the beginning of the Medieval society those that would attend funerals would be the female relatives, neighbors, etc. After the Black Death continued to wipe out more and more people, the women stopped showing up to the funerals. Less and less people began to attend the funerals of those dying because there were just too many people dying at once to be able to attend all of these funerals. They also began to not want to be in a close vicinity to those with the Black Death or those who died from it because they feared that they would then catch the illness themselves. When someone did catch the Black Death they did not care who was taking care of them. When a woman was sick, she did not care whether she was being taken care of by a man or a woman. However, those women who survived the illness, no longer felt the need to be chaste around men because they had already seen things from when they took care of her. Also after the time of the Black Death many men and women tended to leave behind the ideas of traditional dress. As people began to drift from traditional gender roles, the medieval society began to change. The way that the men and women acted changed the social fabric of medieval society from there on out.
The Black Death also affected class relations within its duration. As the people were dying off there were less people to do the labor that was needed. The laborers began to understand that as the population was going down they could require more wages for the work they did as there was less people competing for jobs. The laborers were asking their employers for more money for the same jobs they did before and this required the employer to decide between losing money or losing crops for example. In order to try and leave the laborers were paid the same, the king imposed a law that said that they should be paid the same amount as before. Even though the king enforced this rule, many of the laborers still refused to do the work unless they got a raise. This led to the lords having to pay the higher price, and when the king found out he imprisoned the laborers; however, the laborers said they did not take extra money and they were let free once again. This caused a disruption in the economic systems and changed class relations in medieval society.
Along with the regular laborers asking for more money, the laborers that did the funerals were asking for more money too. There was a lot more work to do with more people dying and the laborers wanted more rewards for their hard work. There were people that were paid to carry the dead to their graves because the families no longer did it. This job also came with serious risks as many of those that carried the dead would end up catching the Black Death themselves. With the black death tearing through Europe, some jobs required a pay raise due to risk or the amount of people in the field which affected the economic situations in medieval society. As funerals became a normal day occurrence, there were lower prices on many products, because many people became afraid of death and were no longer focused on their wealth. Most things became cheaper expect for those things that had to deal with funerals and helping those who came down with the Black Death. Things such as candles and some of the things the sick would eat went up in price. Supply and demand changed drastically during this time leading to the class relations to change within medieval society.
The relations within the community altered at the time of the Black Death. As the people began to realize that the illness was very contagious and fatal, they no longer wanted to take care of the sick. Before the time of the Black Death, the community would come together and help one another in times of illness. With the Black Death rolling through Europe, someone who had the illness would be abandoned by their families and would try to scream out of a window waiting to catch the attention of someone passing by. The chances of someone passing by were becoming lower as many small villages were being abandoned. The people moving out of their homes were changing the world they were used to in order to avoid the possibility of catching the fatal Black Death. The people began to withdraw themselves from their communities as well. As people were taking themselves out of their communities it was changing the society as a whole because they were no longer communicating. It also affected communities because some of the community began to believe that the Black Death was caused by the Jewish people poisoning the water. This caused more issues among the community because it brought more fights with it. As more theories became public on the Black Death it caused more issues within medieval society.
One last thing that was being affected by the Black Death was the situation of the church. Originally there were more than enough people to work with the dying and to do the funerals, but as the Black Death continued its reign it began to take out those church employees who took care of these things. There was such a little number of priests during this time that the churches could no longer hold any divine services, masses or sacraments. A society that relied on the church for its religious events now had to find another way to practice their beliefs. The low number of priests also effected the dying, the pope granted full remission of sins to anyone in danger of death and they could confess their sins to anyone because they did have the numbers to provide people for these jobs. The only way a dying person could get the privilege of having a real member of the church there was if they paid higher wages to the person. This changed Medieval society because it was no longer everyone that was benefiting from the church, it was only the ones that could afford the extra. As a society that used all of these things before, it was a big change to adjust to when they could no longer have these things.
The Black Death did more than just kill off people. It also affected family relations, gender relations, class relations, community relations and the situations of the church within its duration. The Black Death caused the social fabric of Medieval society to break down. There were many second-hand effects that occurred based on what the Black Death did to people. The people of this period were likely to dismiss the things they believed before in order to feel like they were safe from death.
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