Black Death

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Which groups in medieval society benefited the most from the way in which the Black Death the altered social and economic landscape? 

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While it seems strange to think about a "bright side" to the Black Death, the epidemic that decimated anywhere from 30 to 50 percent of the entire European population, it could be said that their was a strong benefit to the laboring class and the poorest among the population. While the Black Death was certainly horrifying, it did much to curb the critical overpopulation problem that Europe had been facing. With some estimates reporting almost half of the population dying off, there was enough food and resources to go around for the first time in quite some time.

Furthermore, labor was in high demand and there were far fewer laborers, giving this class social leverage the likes of which it had never seen. Landowners had no choice but to acquiesce to a better quality of living or higher pay for their workers, lest they be left with none at all.

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The groups that benefited the most from the changes caused by the Black Death were peasants and laborers.  These were the people who saw demand for their services grow more than any others.

Before the Black Death, Europe was overpopulated.  There was a huge pool of labor available so peasants and laborers had no leverage.  They had to remain subservient and obedient because they could always be replaced.

After the Black Death, the demand for their labor was greater than its supply.  This meant that these groups had power.  They could force employers and landholders to pay them better wages and/or give them better terms.  This enabled some to rise up the social and economic ladder.

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