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What was the most important event during The Hundred Years' War, other than any of the wars that took place during it?

The most important event during the Hundred Years’ War was undoubtedly the Black Death. The Hundred Years’ War began in 1337, and the Black Death broke out in Europe just less than a decade later. The Great Plague, as it was also known, led to major economic crisis and social unrest in England and France, the combatant nations of the Hundred Years’ War.

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From around 1346 to 1353, a massive outbreak of bubonic plague commonly known as the Black Death brought death and devastation to the European continent. Estimates vary, but it is generally agreed that anywhere between seventy-five and two hundred million people died during the Black Death, a staggering figure that constituted something like 30–60% of the European population.

The Great Plague, as it was also known, was initially spread by fleas living on black rats that traveled aboard merchant ships. Once the deadly disease hit dry land, the plague was then transmitted in large part by human fleas, which were a lot more common then than they are now. Personal hygiene as we know it today was virtually nonexistent, and with medical knowledge still very much in its infancy, the Black Death soon spread like wildfire, leaving devastation in its wake.

In terms of the Hundred Years’ War, the Black Death had the effect of strengthening royal power in the combatant nations, England and France. Although the plague caused death among all social classes, it had a particularly devastating impact on the nobility. The death of so many nobles in England and France increased the power of their respective monarchies, as the two kings no longer had so many antagonistic nobles to deal with.

At the same time, the Black Death and the massive economic upheavals it had caused generated considerable social unrest, which severely undermined the war efforts of both England and France.

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