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Plague, Cold, and the Limits of Disaster in the Fourteenth Century

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Presentation on theme: "Plague, Cold, and the Limits of Disaster in the Fourteenth Century"— Presentation transcript:

1 Plague, Cold, and the Limits of Disaster in the Fourteenth Century
Chapter 14 Plague, Cold, and the Limits of Disaster in the Fourteenth Century

2 Review Questions HOW DID the climate change globally in the fourteenth century? What was the plague, and where did it come from? WHICH PARTS of the world suffered most from the plagues of the fourteenth century? WHAT WERE the social and political effects of the plague in China, the Islamic world, and Europe? WHY DID some parts of the world not suffer from plague? HOW DID the absence of plague affect Japan, Java, India, Mali, and cultures around the Pacific Ocean?

3 Climate Change: Global vs. Local Effects
Long-term, medium-term, short-term processes: Ice Ages over thousands of years Warming/cooling periods of hundreds of years within periods of global warming Short-term interruptions: El Nino effect in tropics/S. hemisphere “Little Ice Age” begins in early 1200s, lasts 500 years Disrupts shipping, agriculture Ice cap moves southward, temperatures plunge throughout Eurasia Droughts, famines increase with increased ice/cooling of atmosphere

4 What was the plague? Where did it come from?
Yunnan province in China, possibly; Mongol steppe, maybe; not known What was it? Not just one disease, but many. Main disease is bubonic plague transmitted in a number of ways, including flea bites, contact with an infected person or animal, or through the air. Typhus, influenza, smallpox, possibly anthrax accompanied bubonic plague All these illnesses originated w/close human contact with domesticated animals. How and why did it arise? Essentially a medical mystery. A confluence of events (evolution of diseases making transmission easier, poor hygiene, lack of understanding about how diseases spread, high population concentrations) helped.

5 Global Effects China Social and political effects
Massive population loss Loss of power for Mongols in China by 1368 Loss of the “mandate of heaven” Reestablishment of native Chinese rule under the Ming Economic effects Temporary commercial and trade loss on the Silk Road Government lost revenues because of lost taxes Europe Clergy was especially hard-hit Leveling effect, as all die from plague and famine Labor costs increase as workforce dies off

6 The Age of Plague: European Effects
Peasants: end of serfdom, many gain freedom, better wages available in the cities Monarchs take advantage of aristocratic families weakened by the disasters to centralize their power. Many become more religious, but now more often in personal devotions. Franciscans: die in enormous numbers because of their care for the sick, but also gain tremendous respect. Many begin to question the church. The scapegoating of Jewish and Muslim communities, along with others, rises in Europe. Persecution, forced out of France, England Economic effects Initial deflation and economic decline Desire for luxury goods increases More and more different opportunities for making money arise. Economy takes off as population begins to grow again.

7 The Age of Plague: Islam
Islamic World Social and political effects Massive population loss Weakens Il-Khan rule Economic effects Worsens an already bad situation resulting from economic mismanagement during the Il-Khan period

8 Effects on the Periphery
Java and Sumatra Social and political effects Both states are able to solidify imperial rule over larger areas that are free from interference by the Mongols. Economic effects Gain in wealth from trade in the South Pacific Delhi Sultanate Social and Political effects Ibn Tughluq was able to consolidate power in India without interference from the Mongols. Economic Effects Increased wealth from the united state lasted for a time, though by the end of Ibn Tughluq’s reign many states within his realm were asserting their independence. Mali Empire The Sahara blocked the diseases, as it blocked human invaders and allowed West African kingdoms and empires to develop. The gold wealth of these regions developed increasingly during the fourteenth century and made its kings some of the wealthiest rulers in the world.

9 The plague brought benefits to some and disaster to others
The plague brought benefits to some and disaster to others. Most importantly it reveals how humans are tied to their larger ecosystem and how vulnerable we are. It also illustrates how even the most alarming tragedies often can be the catalysts of dramatic change that is often not for the worse.

10 Is a new plague possible?
Discussion Question Is a new plague possible? Consider Global communications opens pathways for the global spread of new pathogens. Note the spread of AIDS, which some have called the new plague. How does it compare to the 14th-century plague? Rapid evolution is creating “superbugs” (bacteria resistant to all known antibiotics) and viruses (like avian flu) with new and potentially deadly properties As recently as 1919, over 20 million people died of influenza in the wake of World War I. Can advances in modern medicine protect us from a global catastrophe on the scale of the 14th-century plagues? Or are we simply staving off the inevitable?


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