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Effect of Black Death on English Society

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Early in the fourteenth century in England, the outbreak of bubonic plague led to the Back Death that claimed the lives of many people. As a result of poor medical knowledge about the disease, it affected many people and caused a real nightmare in England. It is notable that, the Black Death was as a result of Flies bite. In fact, rats that were commonly found in towns carried the flies, whose bites had several health impacts on the English people and the society at large.

            Firstly, Black Death really devastated the European population in 1349. Due to the large number of workers in the European farms and poor medical intervention, the agricultural production reduced considerably. Indeed, the ill health could not allow the peasants to carry out the farm duties effectively. Consequently, the peasants revolted in 1381 to complain about the effect of the disease and the little attention that they were given.

            Secondly, the Black Death stopped the progress of the improvements that were being made on intellectual accomplishments and scientific innovations. Apparently, this was due to a shift in attention, from development to the people’s death. Intellectuals and scientists were focusing more on the causes of the disease and possible medical interventions than the developmental innovations.

            Thirdly, the Black Death also brought a dim expectation concerning the future of Europe, in terms of the death rate at that time. In fact, the people believed that the deaths would take time to end due to poor medical services that characterized the European World by then. Certainly, the pandemic nearly killed approximately twenty million people. Indeed, the Black Death lowered agricultural productivity and the people of England were threatened with starvation. As a result, there was inflation as food prices increased due to low production and market supply.

            In addition, there were social effects, which included the segregation of people according to place, sex and age. Those who were affected by the disease got separated from the rest, and given little medical attention. Indeed, the people in the lower social structure suffered greater impact of the plague than the lords.  

Question 1 (ii)

Changes in the English Government during the Fourteenth Century

            In essence, the fourteenth century marked the beginning of several changes in the way the English World was ruled. It was during this period that the number of intellectuals began to rise in Europe. Besides, several explorations were underway and many people started criticizing the government and the church, on matters concerning equitable distribution of resources and the freedom for the people.

            Also, governing structure started developing during this time. The kingdoms were ruled with the divine Kings. For example, in England during this period, the king also headed the Anglican Church and was ruling through the Christian philosophy that most people did not coincide with. It is during this period that civic rebellion started as people protested the doctrines that the government had put in place.

            Indeed, the leadership was more of dictatorial than the people expected. The monarchial powers were enormous that their decisions were to be implemented despite the effects on the people.  Moreover, the political freedom was hardly achieved since most of the Feudal Lords still wanted to retain the power even though the renaissance swept most of them.

            Notable, it was the fourteenth century that the central government was formed. The centralized system became more effective than the existed small Kingdoms. In fact, the National Monarchies placed the Kings to a very powerful position to help in decision making and distribution of resources. This was probably the case in France and England. In addition, the other form of governance system was the Oligarchy. As was the case, wealthy Oligarchs headed the Italy territories and ensured that order was maintained. Certainly, these leaders imposed what they believed as appropriate behavior that their subjects were to maintain. However, the authority was sometimes excessively exercised on the people regarding the ideology of the Kingship.

            In fact, Oligarchs such as Prince Henry V did not find the renaissance any difference as the intellectualism of the people concerning administrative matters was on the increase. Indeed, people demanded freedom and dignified treatment from their rulers, as well as ensuring that the leaders became responsible for their subjects. 

Question 1 

Specific Factors that Accounted for the Change

            The changes that occurred in the fourteenth century were the culmination of renaissance and discoveries that the intellectuals and scientists made about the classical antiquity. Therefore, some of the specific factors for the change include; capitalism, intellectualism, humanism and self-awareness.


            The essence of capitalism concerns the competition for economic powers and development. Certainly, capitalists had emerged in the fourteenth century to achieve maximum gain from using the people’s power as the Marxist theories explain. The wealthy Oligarchs accumulated massive resources for their political gain. Ideologically, it was the belief that the wealthier leader was powerful and authoritative and could get respect from his subjects. As a result of capitalism, the economic production increased and people could select from various consumables that were available.  


            In essence, the rise of philosophers and scientists led to a lot of technological innovations. They contributed to the development of agriculture and in the medical field to assist in getting the cure for the pandemic that affected the people in England. Consequently, there was adequate improvement in agriculture and treatment of the diseases that affected the people during that time.  The intellectual revolution led to a lot of information, which was available to the people about the systems of governance and the church doctrines.



            As one of the factors that contributed to the change in Europe, humanism led to the spread of Christianity and moral values of the people who lived then. Furthermore, stringent Christian values led to a revolution by the Protestants such as Martin Luther, thus the formation of other churches that broke from the Roman Catholic. Indeed, the religious conflict was a direct consequence of the renaissance. Despite the secrets in the church, it played a major role in inculcating virtues among the people and ensured behavior change from retrogressive past to a development oriented mindset.


            In the fourteenth century, many people became aware of the issues that were happening elsewhere resulting from intellectual publications on classical antiquity that were already circulating. Certainly, there was growing need for doing further studies to increase people’s knowledge and self-awareness. In addition, migration enhanced the discoveries that people made from interaction with other groups with different practices.  

Question 2 (i)

Causes of Glorious Revolution

            Glorious Revolution, which took place in 1688, was historical landmark in England because its objectives were achieved without shedding blood. James II had come to power in 1685 after the death of his brother Charles. His desire was to re-establish Roman Catholic and rule despotically in England. The commoners did not like this and therefore, they revolted.

The Main causes of Glorious Revolution

            Several factors both religious and socio-political combined resulted into a sequence of events that led to the Revolution.

Religious Issues

            When James II tried to restore Catholicism, English people were bothered. James II was determined to restore Catholicism in England to the extent that he was ready to forsake his throne for his religion. In fact, James II was a Roman Catholic and he did not hide that fact. Nobody would have been bothered by that his religion, however, his problem was that he was never contented being a Catholic. James II had issued a proclamation on his attainment of the throne that he would protect, and uphold the Church of England and treat his religion as a personal affair.

             The English people felt gratified by the declaration. Unfortunately, after the Argyll’s suppression and Monmouth’s rebellion, James II felt so strong and foolishly considered catholicizing the entire nation. The church’s party, as well as the Tory had embraced his earlier sentiments because; they believed in him and took his sentiments as true. Nevertheless, the crafty king (James II) did not prove true to his words. James II could not count on help from the church and the Tories, when his designs were considered aggressive and prejudiced.

Declaration of Indulgences

            James II, a Roman Catholic, treated believers sympathetically when he appointed them to high positions both in the army and state. Indeed, when the Pope of Rome was invited to England by James II and his old position officially restored, the Declaration of Indulgence was celebrated in the year 1687.

            For example, when the position of the Head of Megldallan College of Oxford University remained vacant, James II ordered that James Parker who was a Catholic be appointed. In addition, James II ordered that the Vice chancellor of CambridgeUniversity be dismissed for refusing to accommodate Catholic values in the university. However, the parliament decided not to tolerate James II high handedness and therefore planned for his removal.   

             As a result, penal laws against the Roman Catholics were suspended and these prompted dissenters and the Roman Catholics to begin worshipping openly. The Tories who advocated for the Church of England felt let down, while the Whigs became irreconcilable. The people felt that James II supported Catholicism due to religious toleration. 

            In the year 1688, James II proclaimed another Declaration of Indulgence. The declaration was to be spread to the churches for two consecutive Sundays. All the priests were against the reading of the declaration. James II condemned the bishops who opposed his declaration to imprisonment at the LondonTower. However, the bishops were set free by court prompting public rejoice, the action made the king unpopular.

Army and Defense

            At the end of Duke of Monmouth’s rebellion, the king refused to disband army regiments. He failed to acknowledge the wish of English people that the standing army should not be maintained, since it was against the feeling and interest of the common people. Additionally, the king made a mistake when he advocated for the execution of the Duke of Monmouth, who had been defeated in the battle of Sedgmoor. The execution cleared the Whigs of ill will of the people; they gained popularity, strength and were later responsible for overthrowing James II in 1688.

The Birth of a Son

            When Queen Mary, the wife of James II gave birth to a son, the English people thought that the king’s successor was already in line. The prospect of James II son carrying on his father’s Catholic beliefs haunted the English people. They had hoped that James II would die without a son, after which, his daughter called Mary, the wife of William who was a protestant would assume the throne. The people of England were prepared to accommodate James for a short while because they knew he would not survive for along time due to his old age.    

Question 2 

Changes the Glorious Revolution had in England's National Government

            The parliament showed that its powers were greater than those of the monarch. Several contentious issues regarding power were resolved in the parliament. Certainly, the parliament met regularly and approved all taxes. Furthermore, the King and his family had to belong to a protestant religion preferably Anglican.  

            The parliament’s powers to rule no longer came from the monarch; instead, the powers came from the English citizens. The citizens participated in drafting of the laws that governed them and appealed against the laws that violated their rights as human beings.

            The Bill of Rights of 1689, gave the parliament the lone power of making laws, controlling the army and raising taxes.  When the parliament met for the first time on the 22nd January of 1689, it was William of Orange who summoned the parliament and not the King.

            The King was not allowed to talk to the parliament. In February, the parliament declared the Rights that sharply condemned the dealings of James II. The English Bill of Rights is a fundamental part of the constitutional law; it contributed to the development of the English culture, from a nation of subjects to a nation of free citizens with inseparable rights. It was stipulated that the throne would be occupied by the Protestants only. Likewise, succession would rest with Mary’s heirs and those of her sister Anne.

Question 2 

Effect of the English Bill of Rights on English Society

            The English Bill of Rights was enacted in 1689, to outline the rights and freedom that was expected of the people and the relationship with the leaders. Also, it spelt the role of the parliament, limiting the power of the sovereign Monarchs. It also gave the parliament the freedom to carry out its functions without fears. Indeed, the provisions of the Bill borrowed greatly from the philosophical thoughts of John Lock, and had the following effects:

            Firstly, it gave the parliament the needed sovereignty and abridged the Monarchs of their powers. In essence, this was an achievement to the parliament that led to a responsible Monarchy, with constitutional powers. Consequently, the clarity of law and the division of authority between the Parliament and the Monarch; thereby, making the work easier and limited conflict of interest.

             Secondly, due to dehumanizing laws that the Monarchs applied, the Bill of rights banned cruel treatment of the people and prohibited the abuse of the human rights. As a result, the English population was assured of dignity and equality before the law. It also ensured the freedom of speech for the people.

            Thirdly, the Bill of Rights led to amicable solution to the religious and political conflicts, since there was a clear law to be followed in settling such disputes. Notably, it was no longer one mans decision, but the rules that universally apply across the board. For example, the law helped in solving the dispute that had threatened the entire Ireland, Scotland and England.  

            To the advantage of parliament, the Bill of Rights also shielded the parliament from court’s interference. Besides, it ensured that the trial was fair to all. Other than in England, the Bill of Rights also led to other countries such as New Zealand and United States to enact their Bills of Rights.

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