Expert answer:Economic Problems During Middle Ages & Dark Ages o


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Discussion question: What were the economic problems facing Europeans in the Middle
Ages? Did they adapt to those problems efficiently?
Student1: The
economic problems in the Dark Ages of Europe attribute
to feudalism, war, and disease. European feudal lords and Christian bishops
joined forces, and some of them combine religion and politics. In order to
plunder the land for production, feudal lords often start wars. While, the serfs
were bound to work hard on the land but could hardly keep themselves
fed, the knight attached to the feudal Lord and fought everywhere(Asceticism
made the knight live in war and sexual repression.) Inspired by the Pope,
Europe carried out a long period of Crusade to protect religion, burning and
looting along the way, and the Crusaders suffered heavy casualties. Especially
in the late middle ages, bubonic plague “Black Death” spread across the
continent, killing more than half of Europe’s population.
However, the mass decrease of the population destroyed the economy–the
collapse of which caused backward institutions to fall like dominoes, leading
to weak governance and a revolution in social education patterns. To begin
with, the turmoil of the Later Middle Ages, which had weakened the Church
and Nobles, was largely subsiding by 1450. This led to the emergence of
strong monarchies in Western Europe that could safeguard peace and
promote trade and commerce. On top of that, the nobles, ruined by inflation
and the collapsed urban grain market triggered by the Black Death, had sold
most of their serfs their freedom by 1450. Finally, the peasants who had
survived the Black Death and inherited the property of those who died had
attained a higher standard of living. The fact that most peasants were now
free and that many owned their land provided the incentive to work harder
that led to better agricultural production. One good indication that this was
taking place was the fact that Europe’s population rose from an estimated 50
million in 1450 to 70 million by 1500.
Student2: At the beginning of the Middle Ages, Europeans faced the
changeable systems due to heavy taxation and urban institutions. The
Frankish kings created feudalism to control military and politics–that
was (subinfeudation) divided troops into several classes with different
income. Based on feudalism, the manorialism emerged in the late Roman
Empire, and took warriors into the ruling class which ensured military
service (Cameron and Neal, 55). Then, with the agricultural innovation
improved and wide use of iron, the economy of Europe in Medieval Ages
expanded until the Crusades grew. The economic problem in Middle Ages
is built on the redistribution of land and continuous wars, which
increased the financial burden in long period. What was worse, these
landlords kept their hunting hobbies which forced peasants to cut down
woods and graze in the forest, which occurred violence and riots
(Cameron and Neal, 84). The frequent disputes caused less supplication
of livestock, which is the main problem in manorial economy.
In addition to wars, here is another dangerous crisis people faced
was the Black Death, which spread from China in 1348 (Cameron and
and temporarily broke the economic route to East. On one hand, the
government should put more money to support wars like France, Italy
and England; on the other hand, the plague increased the financial crisis
and lead to the lack of employees, lots of people were not willing to work
outside during that time. So the government had to control the higher
wages, which finally caused revolts and revolutions in Europe. Taking
France, England and Italy for examples, many revolutions broke out in
13th century which labors fought against the lords and the government.
Again, most landlords rent their lands to peasants, when the
population grew rapidly, the wages of labors were declined. The lower
wages discouraged peasants enthusiasm to plant crops. So the cultivation
in western and eastern Europe didn’t improve due to heavy taxation and
riots during the Great Famine ( Cameron and Neal, 85). These revolts
helped labors achieve their purpose. Labors from western Europe got
freedom, and higher wages, like labors in England in 15th century
( Cameron and Neal, 86). The freedom and higher wages for labors
stimulated them to plant crops actively. Till 15th century, the economic
growth began to come back after the plague. The 15th century is a period
of recovery such as population, business trade and food production; Till
the 16th century, the emergence of Guild organization showed the
improvement on institutions, and new method of management in
companies, which increased the industrial competition.
Overall, the economic problems are related to famine, plague and
wars in the 14th century, which strongly hit the economic development
of Europe. Till the beginning of 15th century, the economic development
grew slowly till in stable development in the 16th century. The Europeans
deal with economic problems effectively.
Work Cited
Neal. Larry and Cameron Rondo. A Concise Economic History of the
World: From Paleolithic Times to the Present (4th edition). New York.
Oxford university Press. 1993.
Student(Actually professor)3 : Some good discussion here. A lot of
people are focusing on the “problems” in the sense of dangers and threats
like wars and disease. What I had in mind a bit more was economic
problems: what were the economic issues they faced in making a living and
how did they solve these?
Anqi asked a question in he Ask the Professor board that really should have
been asked here. (The other board is for technical questions about the
mechanics of the course.) Let me reprint it here and respond.
Hi, Professor Langlois,
I have a question about feudalism and manorialism. In the textbook, I know
the manorialism is built on the basis of feudalism, and both of them are
related to lands, peasants and ruling classes. What is difference between two
systems? Do the peasants have freedom in manorialism? And what is the
different economic influences about the two systems? I am confused about
these questions.
Thanks for your help.
Feudalism was the POLITICAL system of the Middle Ages, though it wasn’t
always used in its pure form. Feudalism was about the relationships
between lords and vassals — the legal system in many senses. Manorialism
was the ECONOMIC or agricultural system (almost all of the medieval
economy was agriculture) — the organization of the manors and the division
of tasks surplus between lords and peasants.
Student4: COLLAPSE
The social economy in the middle ages of Europe was characterized by the emergence of feudal
manors and the rise of cities. Manors were the basic economic organization in the middle ages.
With the rise of the city, the manor gradually declined. From feudal hierarchy to the hierarchical
monarchy. The trend is the crown has gradually strengthened. Christianity dominated Europe in
the middle ages and was an important pillar of the feudal system in Europe. The rule of
Christianity in the middle ages had a profound influence on Europe in the middle ages, which
played a decisive role in Europe’s social life, economic life and even cultural life. Christianity
advocates thrift and useful craft, and hard work is an important morality in the eyes of early
Christians. Christianity took great pains to promote agriculture. The first is to reclaim the
wasteland. The Christian church also teaches and introduces knowledge about agriculture. They
have done many experiments and are willing to teach these experiences and knowledge to those
who like to learn about agriculture. Unwittingly, medieval monks transformed nomadic savages
into civilized peasants. This promoted the development of the agricultural economy in the middle
ages in Europe.
Student 5: For Professor’s problem, in middle age, one of the social problems is
Black Death which led to the rapid decrease of labors as an economic problem. Labor
is a major economic factor during this period, and the decrease of labor means that
there were no people doing farming. Because farming and agriculture were influenced
negatively, the economy in Middle Age faced the problems. Meanwhile, the Black
Death was spread through the trade route, and the almost European countries suffered
this disease (Neal & Cameron, 2015, 74). Thus, the trade was also influenced, and
many traders lose money and could not make a living. As the economic structure in
Middle Age, manorial system also met some problems. According to manorial
system, the lord held the right of land and peasants, and peasants can only work for
landlord. However, the deforestation forced by landlord led to the land loss, and
peasants could not develop farming and arable. Thus, the profits of farming
decreased, which was a major problem for agriculture as the major economy in
medieval. On the other hand, the wars and diseases caused the decrease of labor and
agricultural productivity. Wars also increased the taxation heavy and activity of
peasants. In this case, the Middle Age met these economic problems, and the
economy recovered until 15th century.
Neal, L., & Cameron, R. (2015). A Concise Economic History of the World.
Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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