While parts of Europe took centuries to replenish populations to their pre-plague level after the shock of the Black Death of 1348-52, the Low Countries had a rapid demographic recovery. Part of the explanation has been linked to a persistent idea that the Low Countries were ‘lightly touched’ by the plague during the Middle Ages. This paper suggests, however, that this notion has been established on the back of a research bias towards the cities: cities which were replenished quickly after plagues by inward migration, disguising mortality. We suggest the best indicator of true mortality effects come from the countryside.
The life of William de Aberford, Vicar of Batley, can be summed up in two words – it ended. De Aberford’s Will – one of 224 Wills filed in the register of Archbishop Zouche of York in the wake of the Black Death – is the sole verifiable documentary fragment relating to his life. Drawing on a multitude of archival and scholarly sources; this paper will try and recreate aspects of a hitherto unexplored life – who was he? What was his past? What impact did his death (and subsequent bequests) have on the community? And can we reveal anything of his life – before death?
This paper examines the relationship between the Black Death in England and the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381. My research has demonstrated that the efforts to mitigate the labor shortage caused by the Black Death and the subsequent outbreaks of plague in the 36 years between the two events, in the form of laws like the Ordinance of Laborers of 1349, and the Statute of Laborers in 1351, created a culture of social unrest amongst the English peasantry. Fostered by a system which punished them for attempting to earn what their labor was worth, then taking more of what little they were allowed in the form of poll-taxes issued by the unpopular government of Richard II beginning in 1377, I have attempted to show that this increasing animosity found its outlet in the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381.