What happened to Europe's population between 1200 and 1500?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

During this time period, the population of Europe rose and then fell again.  By the end of the period, it was beginning again to rise slowly.

At the start of this period, the population of Europe was rising rapidly.  This was due largely to improvements in farm technology.  These improvements allowed farmers to grow more and thereby feed more people.  By 1300, Europe's population was estimated at 100 million people.

But then the 14th century was a time of horrible decline.  This was a time in which Europe was hit by famine caused by the "little ice age."  It was the century in which the Black Death killed so many Europeans.  It was also a century torn by war.  All of these things combined to make the population drop severly.  The population of Europe is believed to have dropped by anywhere from 25 to 50%.  The population would not get back to 13th century levels until after 1500.


mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Europe’s population fluctuated between 1200–1500. There was a significant growth in the population until the 1300s. New farming methods were used that supported the growth of the population. Fields were no longer left unplanted. Plants were used that returned nutrients to the soil. However, as the population grew, there was no margin for error in terms of the food supply. As Europe’s climate became cooler and wetter around 1315, farming was impacted, and famine became an issue. The Great Famine of 1315 led to the death of many Europeans. Then, around 1347, disease impacted parts of Europe leading to a significant drop in the population. The Black Death caused a drop of about one-third of the population in Europe.

Eventually, Europe’s population recovered from these devastating events. By 1500, Europe’s population was growing again, and it continued to grow past the 1500s.