Volume No. 18 Issue No. 1 January 2021  

  Earlier pandemics resulted in a “new normal”

     There is some speculation these days about how the practices brought about by the COVID 19 pandemic will result in a “new normal.” However, arguably the best known pandemic, Bubonic Plague or the Black Death, resulted in a drastic new normal that changed the course of history.
   According to the website, Historic UK, William I created feudalism in 1066 to consolidate his power. The system soon became prevalent all over Europe. The king owned all the land. He shared it with his lords, who had serfs to work the land. The serfs were slaves tied to the land, working for the lords, in return for a house and a plot of land to farm. They had to ask permission from their lord to leave the village, to grind their own corn in the lord's mill or even for their daughter to marry.
   Then, the Black Death struck Italy in 1344 and soon spread throughout Europe. It is estimated that one-third to one-half of the population of Europe died as a result of the disease, which was spread by fleas carried on rats.
   An article by Adam McBride in “Salon,” dated April 26, claims the Black Death resulted in the Renaissance and set the stage for the Industrial Age and the modern era. Before the plague, McBride said the medieval lord was the primary unit of legal, civic and military power. As a result of the high fatality rate because of the Black Death, there were not enough peasants to work the land and labor was in short supply. Peasants could then negotiate for better working conditions. The lords were in no position to refuse. Wages increased and rents decreased.
   Commoners could obtain large tracts of land and sell produce for a profit. It was the beginning of capitalism. Craftsmen were also able to receive better wages. The standard of living for the common man vastly improved.
   Literature and scientific thought began to thrive after the pandemic. Men like John Wycliffe began to question the authority of church and state, believing that ultimate authority resulted in the people rather than kings. Scientific thinkers began to consider such things as the rotation of Earth and gravity.
   The new normal after the Bubonic Plague shaped the current world.
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