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Plague, Cold, and the Limits of Civilization

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Presentation on theme: "Plague, Cold, and the Limits of Civilization"— Presentation transcript:

1 Plague, Cold, and the Limits of Civilization

2 The Little Ice Age Global cooling of 2-3 degrees begins c. 1300 AD
Part of a cycle of hot/cold spells that is still unpredictable Lasts 150 years Prior 400 years were relatively warm ( ) c.1300 glaciers begin moving south Disrupts shipping and trading in northern climates More frozen water = less rain Called “Little Ice Age” Today’s temperatures are only now reaching what they were in the 1200s

3 Effects of Little Ice Age
Massive flooding early (cooling quickens precipitation until water becomes locked in glaciers) “Great Drowning” of 1362 in Holland Erosion and village destruction in northern latitudes Severe droughts and cold winters in Central Asia Famine throughout Asia and Americas Brings end of: Mongol Empire Hohokam in AZ

4 Coming of the Plague “Black Death” most lethal event in the history of humanity Historians still unsure exactly what the “Black Death” actually was Probably a mixture of several dangerous pathogens Bubonic Plague Typhus Small Pox Influenza Anthrax Global cooling created more hospitable environments for these diseases

5 Spread of the Plague Seems to have originated in the steppelands
Spread through Mongol conquest Flourished because of global cooling Earliest accounts in China, but quickly spread throughout all of Eurasia Depending upon the region 1/3 to ¾ of the population died from the plague

6 Effects of the Plague Turn toward religion
Increased interest in medical science Survivor’s guild and obsession with death Rise in Anti-Semitism Belief that Jews caused the plague by poisoning wells Jews burned by mobs Exploited Bible passages about betrayers of Christ Drove Jews out of W. Europe and concentrated them in E. Europe

7 Effects cont. Women’s status Class distinctions diminished
Plague hit men harder than women Majority numbers brought women into power Socially, economically, politically Chaucer’s Wife of Bath Class distinctions diminished Labor much more valuable because of worker scarcity Peasant rebellions in China and W. Europe “free” peasantry rather than serfdom Only in plague areas, not E. Europe

8 Still more Effects Lack of labor force led to increase of interest in labor saving technologies Particularly in hardest hit areas like W. Europe Major reason for European head start on industrialization Plague survivors had very strong immune systems Reason European diseases so devastating to the New World

9 Outside the Plague Zone
India Delhi Sultanate becomes aggressive w/ decline of Mongol power Ibn Tughluq est. large empire Based on conquest Falls apart after his death SE Asia Java Imperial power slowly taking Mongol possessions Controlled SE Asian trade

10 Japan Enjoying century of peace and isolation
Lessens importance of warrior class “Shoguns” Struggle for power between Emperor and Shoguns Emperor defeated, left as a figurehead with the warrior Shoguns in charge Chaos of the time period leads to development of Zen Part of the Buddhist tradition Discipline Self-denial Willingness to die Women oppressed in military culture

11 Mali Empire (NW Africa)
Began to grow in wealth at European expense Desert protected it from effects of plague Muslim kings who frequently made pilgrimages to Mecca/Medina Mansa Musa 1324 Controlled W. African gold mines Spent so much on his pilgrimage that he caused world-wide inflation (fall in the buying power of currency) Europe’s trade imbalance caused need for $ (gold/silver) Very little precious metal in Europe African gold led to extreme European interest in est. regular trade with NW Africa

12 After the Plague Vikings stop exploring the N. Atlantic
Last voyage to America 1347 AD N. Greenland abandoned Major earthquake levels walls of Gallipoli Turks tried to move in and seize Dardanelles Begins 200 years of Muslim/Christian conflict for straights of Bosporus/Dardanelles Ottoman Turks seize all of Anatolia, leaving only Constantinople and S. Greece to Byzantines

13 After the Plague Mongol expansion ends
Russian princes gain independence from Golden Horde Il-Khan in Persia dies 1343 and region fragments Rise in power of European monarchs E. Europe spared from plague Monarchs lived long lives with well-planned succession, leading to stable, peaceful states W. Europe’s peasants blamed feudal nobles for their problems and began appealing directly to monarchs

14 Population Recovery World population static for approx. a century as smaller plagues hit W. Europe and China rebound most quickly Causes power shift out of Middle East and the steppelands and toward W. Europe and China

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