The Underclass, Underculture  & History From Below

Black Death Symptoms. 

Septicemic Plague Victim. Ink & Coke on Lining Paper. 2018.

Bubonic Plague Victim. Ink & Fineliner on Lining Paper. 2018.

Pneumonic Plague Victim. Ink on Lining Paper. 2019.

Black Death Aftermath. 

Flagellants Self-Flagellating In The Hope For God's Forgiveness. 2018. Ink, Newsprint & Electrical Tape on Corrugated Cardboard.

The Black Death of 1348-1351 literally turned the world upside down, killing between one third to half the population of Europe alone, without taking into account parts of Asia and North Africa. With this unimaginable loss of life, every aspect of society was affected in some way, specifically labour, the central mechanism to life in medieval Europe. With peasants being able to charge higher wages due to a massive shortage of their sought after labour, and in some cases eventually owning their own land due to their landlords dying off, this  labour shortage also affected other areas of life.

Within the space of a hundred years, the printing press was invented relying on less scribes and copyists; preservation of food was vital, allowing fisherman to stay out in the waters to catch more fish; with there being less soldiers on the battlefield, firearms during warfare became more advanced; and the role of physician and surgeon shifted further apart with surgeons relying much less on Galenian theories and using more of an examining approach to determine diagnosis. As well as shifts in surgery, hospitals became more like our modern understanding with the ward system being put in place to prevent cross contamination. The first incarnations of a public health board evolved too. Learning was in much decline during the Black Death with a majority of the clergy dying off, afterwhich universities became more familiar across Europe. In England, the written and spoken language shifted from predominantly Latin and French respectively, to English.

After the authorities were concerned that labourers were profiting, legislation was put in place to cap wages at pre-plague rates causing the 1381 peasant revolt led by Wat Tyler and preacher John Ball, which spread across the country. Uprisings and revolts, it seems, became more prominent thereafter. With the faith in the church declining after so many people died during the epidemic, and a more secular outlook becoming more evident with many heretical groups appearing, it could be argued that the Black Death had a part to play in the Reformation some 200 years later.