Many things, both good and bad, took place within the 14th and 15th centuries. Many of them had significant impacts that have been felt to date. These two centuries are among those termed as middle ages. In Europe, among the difficulties faced were war, a weak economy, diseases, religion, and poor environment. Within this era, one of the most significant challenges took place during what was termed as the medieval period. Among the difficulties during the medieval period was a plague, which was also called the Black Death.
The plague was believed to be caused by a bacterium known as the Yersinia pestis, which was transmitted through flies found in rats. Its effects were a darkly discolored skin on the human, something that led to the invention of the name Black Death (Bonnie 2013). It would be transmitted from one person to another through spitting and sneezing, and the victims died from filled up lungs. Due to a lack of more information on the causes of the plague, scholars associated with a punishment from God. During these centuries, life expectancy was so low up to 20 years only. Many people from different parts of the world died due to this.
Poor weather conditions were a great challenge, something that led to the loss of life. Many of the population settled in the rural and thus depended on the weather for their agricultural practices. Failed weather meant poor or no harvests leading to drought and eventually death of many people due to famine (Bonnie 2013). Within the 14th and 15th centuries, the weather condition was colder and wet, something that many could not resist. Due to these unpredictable weather conditions, for instance, Europe had rituals performed during plowing, sowing, and harvesting seasons. They believed that some saints would protect them from specific calamities. For example, St. Clement was supposed to protect against the wind while the Virgin Mary was thought to protect against storms and lightning.
During the medieval period, childbearing and precisely childbirth was a significant risk. The current technology was not available then, and the process of birth was a challenge as both the mother and the child would die (Bonnie 2013). When labor pain proceeded for a long time with no help at hand, some women would die out of exhaustion. The childbirth process was under the control of midwives who were not trained. Many of them qualified out of the experience they gained after working for an extended period. The few women who would survive the labor pain, some would eventually die due to postnatal infections and other complications. These complications would be hastened by the availability of only essential equipment that would not offer any special attention.
Heresy is another challenge that was experienced during the medieval period, where one who had a different theoretical belief from that of Christianity would be punished. Persecution, expulsion, and death were more evident during this time.
Despite these crucial challenges, this period made some advances that have been discussed below. One, quarantine was adopted within the 14th century (Smith 2019) this adoption was facilitated by the growth of the maritime trade and the fact that the spread of the plague was associated with the returning of the ships from the Levant. These ships would be isolated for some time to be able to control the spread of the disease. From a period of 30 days to a period of 40 days, these ships would be isolated. They associated the isolation period with the period that was spent by Jesus and Moses in isolation.
Within the 15th century, the printing press of Gutenberg was introduced. Printing was first mechanized in Europe despite having movable types of print and paper in China. The printing press was first mentioned in a lawsuit in Strasbourg in 1439 (Smith 2019). The invention of the printing press owned much to the medieval paper press, which was modeled after the ancient wine-and-olive press of the Mediterranean area. Although the process was tricky, they still managed. Printing was made through the use of a long handle, which was used to turn a heavy wooden screw, exerting pressure against the paper, which would then be laid over the type mounted on a wooden platen. The printing machine would print 250 sheets per hour, which were printed on one side alone.
Other inventions include the hourglass, which gained popularity during the 14th century. The hourglass came in to replace the older ways of timekeeping. Such traditional methods were the sundials which were used on the long voyages by sea. Again, within this period, the wheelbarrow was invented, proving their importance within the 15th century, and they were used in the construction sector. In conclusion, the middle age period was characterized by many centuries, but we focus on the 14th and 15th centuries. This period was termed as a dark period due to the difficulties experienced. Some of the problems include heresy, harsh weather conditions, the Black Death, among others. Various inventions took place, some of which have affected till today. Some of these inventions are printing press, wheelbarrow, and adoption of quarantine, among others.
BONNIE, G. SMITH. WORLD IN THE MAKING: A GLOBAL HISTORY, VOLUME TWO: SINCE 1300. OXFORD University Press, 2013.
Smith, Bonnie G., et al. World in the Making: A Global History. Oxford University Press, 2019.
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