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# In August 1348 the bubonic plague, or Black Death, suddenly appeared

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In August 1348 the bubonic plague, or Black Death, suddenly appeared  [#permalink]

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Updated on: 26 Sep 2019, 23:54
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In August 1348 the bubonic plague, or Black Death, suddenly appeared in England. Its germs were carried by the fleas on black rats that came into the country on ships from abroad. The first outbreak of the plague was of intense ferocity, for the people had no immunity and persons living close to the margin of subsistence fell victims to the disease.

Returning in 1361, the plague caused high mortality among children born since 1348; there were other visitations in 1368 and 1375. High farming in the thirteenth century had been based on the scarcity of land, a large population, and a great demand for food—conditions that had forced the peasants to remain on their holdings and to accept the burdens of serfdom. But when the demand for food was less, the profits of agriculture shrank. High farming, which had already been slipping before 1348, came to an end.

The startling fact about those figures is the amazing drop in population between 1348 and 1377. It may be the number of people in overcrowded England already was beginning to decline before the coming of the Black Death. There were floods and famines in the years between 1315 and 1317. Certainly the plague caused a high mortality. In some monasteries the monks all but disappeared (it is thought that 20 half the clergy in England fell victims to the pestilence). The Black Death had its most striking effect on the rural economy. The balance between the number of labourers and the amount of land under cultivation and the relations between lord and peasant were quickly altered. There were deserted villages and many unoccupied peasant holdings. After the first 25 visitation widows and widowers remarried quickly and produced as many children as before; but because of the high mortality among young people this population increase was not maintained later in the century.

The work of the manor could not be performed by the villeins who had survived the plague; the lord had to employ casual labor at wages that doubled within a decade. Moreover, a villein, once tied to his holding by economic necessity, could easily run away to another manor where employment would be offered to him with no questions asked.

Landowners complained bitterly of the labour shortage and of the wages they had to pay. In 1351 they obtained the Statute of Laborers, which fixed wages at the rates before the plague, declared that all landless men must accept work when it was offered to them, and prohibited peasants from moving from one manor to another. For a time the statute had some effect, but in the long run it was useless, for wages continued to rise and employers had to pay them. There was also a scarcity of tenants. Few manors were without vacant holdings; hence the yield was less and income from the land declined. Agricultural products no longer fetched high prices. Yet the cost of luxuries and of manufactured goods was rising.

Thereafter the plague subsided in the rural areas but remained endemic in London and other towns, where it could become active at any time and could spread along lines of communication into the country. It remained in England for more than 300 years.
source: RC99

1. Which of the following was NOT a contributing factor in the dependence of the peasantry on high farming as a means of subsistence?

A. A large population

B. A widespread outbreak of plague

C. A great demand for food

D. A scarcity of land

E. Too many mouths to feed

2. According to information brought forth by the author in the passage, the economic difficulties brought on by the Black Death were not quickly resolved because:

A. potential workers were afraid to leave their homes due to the fear of contracting disease.

B. population gains that might have been made by remarriages were offset by a high infant mortality rate.

C. many landholdings were left unoccupied, often without recourse.

D. the Statute of Laborers fixed wages at the pre-plague levels.

E. there was no money in the economy

3. Which of the following claims would, if true, most substantially weaken the author‘s claim that the plague brought an end to the practice of high farming?

A. The practice of high farming was reinforced after the floods and famines in the 1310s reduced the amount of arable land.

B. Immediately following the plague, the profits of agriculture would see a rebound due to the stabilization in wages and food prices.

C. The numbers of peasants working on English farms decreased throughout much of the years of plague.

D. The Statute of Laborers began to be strictly enforced when it became apparent that wages were still rising.

E. Over the next few years following the plague, the incomes of agriculturists kept falling lower and lower

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Originally posted by LordStark on 10 Sep 2018, 07:30.
Last edited by SajjadAhmad on 26 Sep 2019, 23:54, edited 3 times in total.
Updated - Complete topic (696).
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Re: In August 1348 the bubonic plague, or Black Death, suddenly appeared  [#permalink]

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16 Sep 2018, 22:30
OEs..

1) Go back to ¶2, where high farming is mentioned. While three of the factors are mentioned as factors, (B) conflicts with the author‘s argument that the plague reduced dependence on high farming.

(A): Opposite. This is mentioned immediately after the introduction of high farming.

(C): Opposite. As above.

(D): Opposite. As above.

(E): Opposite. As above.

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Re: In August 1348 the bubonic plague, or Black Death, suddenly appeared  [#permalink]

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16 Sep 2018, 22:31
2) This question asks you to get to the root of the problem caused by the plague. The economic difficulties are attributed in the passage to a labour shortage. According to ¶3, this labour shortage lingered because of high infant mortality.

(A): Out of Scope. The author never discussed people‘s fears of leaving the home (and in fact ¶4 describes a good deal of movement).

(C): Faulty Use of Detail. This is an effect, not a root cause of the economic difficulty. Landholdings could not be filled without more workers.

(D): Opposite. The Statute‘s effects are discussed in the passage as being negligible.

(E): Incorrect, as explained above.

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Re: In August 1348 the bubonic plague, or Black Death, suddenly appeared  [#permalink]

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16 Sep 2018, 22:32
3) Go back to ¶2 to review the author‘s argument that the plague ended high farming. The author argues that the peasantry depended on this sort of farming for subsistence and in ¶5 implies that landowners had previously taken high profits from the practice. If (B) is true, the second point, made in the last sentences of the passage, is directly contradicted: there would have been fewer reasons for high farming to collapse, and the author‘s argument would therefore be weakened.

(A): Out of Scope. Even if this were true, it would have no effect on the plague since it occurred several decades before the plague occurred.

(C): Out of Scope. Is incorrect because the population decrease is one of the author‘s supporting pieces of evidence for the central argument.

(D): Out of Scope. Even if this is true, it has no impact on the fact that the plague brought an end to high farming. This is an effect of the plague‘s impact on high farming, not a fundamental piece of evidence supporting or refuting it.

(E): Opposite. This would strengthen the author‘s claim.

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Re: In August 1348 the bubonic plague, or Black Death, suddenly appeared  [#permalink]

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28 Oct 2018, 11:22
1. Which of the following was NOT a contributing factor in the dependence of the peasantry on high farming as a means of subsistence?

A. A large population

B. A widespread outbreak of plague

C. A great demand for food

D. A scarcity of land

E. Too many mouths to feed

2. According to information brought forth by the author in the passage, the economic difficulties brought on by the Black Death were not quickly resolved because:

A. potential workers were afraid to leave their homes due to the fear of contracting disease.

B. population gains that might have been made by remarriages were offset by a high infant mortality rate.

C. many landholdings were left unoccupied, often without recourse.

D. the Statute of Laborers fixed wages at the pre-plague levels.

E. there was no money in the economy

The questions asks about the reasons why the economic difficulties were not resolved and it is stated int he passage that infant mortality rate was very high after the plague.

3. Which of the following claims would, if true, most substantially weaken the author‘s claim that the plague brought an end to the practice of high farming?

A. The practice of high farming was reinforced after the floods and famines in the 1310s reduced the amount of arable land.

B. Immediately following the plague, the profits of agriculture would see a rebound due to the stabilization in wages and food prices.

C. The numbers of peasants working on English farms decreased throughout much of the years of plague.

D. The Statute of Laborers began to be strictly enforced when it became apparent that wages were still rising.

E. Over the next few years following the plague, the incomes of agriculturists kept falling lower and lower

Quesiotns ask to identify the option that weakens the claim that plague lead to the end to the practice.
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Re: In August 1348 the bubonic plague, or Black Death, suddenly appeared  [#permalink]

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04 May 2019, 07:08
In the paragraph, it is stated "After the first 25 visitation widows and widowers remarried quickly and produced as many children as before; but because of the high mortality among young people this population increase was not maintained later in the century" here the author talks about mortality rate in young people and the answer for the second question is " population gains that might have been made by remarriages were offset by a high infant mortality rate",
the mortality rate of young people and infant mortality(which is below the age of one) is nowhere comparable.
Re: In August 1348 the bubonic plague, or Black Death, suddenly appeared   [#permalink] 04 May 2019, 07:08
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