«Social Causes of Environmental Problems: The Black Death» - Free Essay Paper

Social Causes of Environmental Problems: The Black Death

Many social factors can be associated with causes of various environmental problems. Moreover, ideological factors tend to shape as well as frame and inform material causes of environmental problems. In other words, causes and exacerbation of environmental problems can easily be linked with economic, political and ideological factors in history or in the present times. The Black Death is said to have had huge impacts on both social and economic lives of individuals. People left their families and fled cities. Moreover, funeral rites emerged as perfunctory or were terminated altogether. In terms of ideology, some people had feelings that the wrath of God had descended on them hence the need for prayers arose (Gottfried, 2010). Some developed the maxim attitude whereby they ate and drank as they enjoyed since they were waiting for death. These are some of the social factors that could have led or exacerbated the Black Death.

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During the Black Death, the economy in the affected nations underwent through rapid and extreme inflation. That was due to the difficulties in procuring goods through production and trade. That way, prices of goods produced locally and imported goods rose by far hence making them unaffordable. Most importantly, workers became scarce due to illnesses and deaths. The peasants felt the impacts of new increases in wages and the demand for workers in farms skyrocketed. That threatened all manorial holdings and serfs were not in any way linked to a single master. Generally, wages outpaced the prices leading to high living standards. For instance, in France and Italy high standards of living led to malnutrition that increased susceptibility to diseases and infections due to people’s weakened immunity (Mooney, Knox & Schacht, 2014). Only the rich merchants and farmers across Europe benefited from the skyrocketing prices. Therefore, economic upheavals raised affordability difficulties that caused health issues such as malnutrition.  

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The Black Death can also be associated with political factors that caused and exacerbated the whole problem. France and England governments attempted to legislate in order to fight against inflation of wages in those nations. They found out that peasantry rebelled against strict serfdom laws. That led to starvation and many monarchies increased taxes as well as fines in order to deal with limited income. Despite of that repression, governments in the two nations started to realize that people required freedom to make choices. Most importantly, physicians and medical professionals fled to far countries in order to avoid the plague leaving people to suffer and die (May, 2011). That increased the spread of the plague since government officials had also become weak to close such movements of physicians.

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The Black Death was followed by mass hysteria that led to both physical and verbal attacks on the crown and the national churches. That way, the King and Catholic Church were given the mandate to protect externalities such as Jews and lepers. Moreover, lepers were treated as outcasts and persecuted due to people’s beliefs that they were spreading the plague. In addition, the Jews had been believed to poison both water and the air. Due to the fact that men from the king’s side were sworn to enforce the law, they were ambushed. A good example of an ideological happening was that by Regensburg chronicler, Megenburg, who took out the query of whether sinfulness of people led to the plague (Byrne, 2012). His conclusion was that the sinful nature of humanity had led to the plague. Most people held similar sentiments and that the plague was a cure for people’s social fragmentation and sin. In other words, people had different beliefs concerning the causes of the Black Death. Some cited sin whilst others blamed some religious groups.

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