Baroque Literature Essay, Research Paper
The Black Death Greatly Improved the European Society
Throughout history, many unforgettable events have affected the literature of the time: wars, revolutions, industrialization, and disease. Although many critics very quickly point out the changes in literature that the industrial revolution caused, not many of those critics are willing to dig any deeper into the past. However, the fourteenth century contained changes in literature that were just as dramatic. The repeated outbreaks of the Bubonic Plague in that century led to many significant changes in European society that therefore deeply enhanced the content, quantity, and the moral values of the audience of medieval literature.
The Bubonic Plague, also known as the Black Death, killed one third of the population of Europe during its reign in the 13th and 14th centuries. The impact of this mass killer caused enormous havoc to the medieval society because of its unknown origin, the unknown causes and preventions, and most significantly its deathly results. Changes in the content of literature occurred drastically, not only the complete change of the language, but also moral values began to be taught, rather than solely literature written for entertainment. In a book, The Courtier, Baldassare Castiglione described the proper manners for gentlemen and ladies to live by (Chambers et al, 357). This change in moral codes of society also brought about changes in the curriculums taught in schools. Education began to include an attempt to improve physical, moral, and social development (Chambers et al, 356). Children were now taught social graces, including dancing and courteous manners, and were also taught riding and fencing to aid in the improvement in the ?physical fitness? aspect of education.
Printing Presses became contemporaries of the darkest of the plague years (Herrlihy, 50). Johannes Gutenberg was the first to prove this, and his alloy is still the basis of the printer?s art (Chambers et al, 321). These new presses allowed for cheaper, faster, and more accurate duplication of books (Herrlihy, 50). ?Also the introduction of paper from the East was a major step in reducing costs, for paper is far cheaper than parchment to produce.? (Chambers et al, 321). This was significant to the society because the supply of books more than doubled, and the price of books greatly decreased (Tuchman, 476). The plague allowed a huge number of new experiences, privileges, and abilities to become available to classes that had previously enjoyed nothing of the sort.
Literature was now available to a much broader segment of the population, and libraries were able to store larger quantities of information at lower costs. Books became not just exclusively belonging to nobles, but now also the merchant class became owners and readers of a wide variety of books (Tuchman, 476). This caused a new political power structure to emerge than that of feudalism, one that was based on wealth and accomplishments rather than on land and birth (Horton, 47). After the Black Death occurred, the literature in English began to regain prestige, but it still reflected the ordinary life of the common man (Horton, 51). A French writer reported a curious thing. He said that an unusually large number of twins and even triplets were born to couples following the plague, and that few women were childless. Was this nature?s way of making up for the great number of children who had dies in the pandemic? The answer is still unknown to man (Oleksy, 58). This rebirth of hope and spirit that followed the Black Death is called the Renaissance (Oleksy, 63).
Thus, the Bubonic Plagues during the 14th century led to numerous significant changes in European society, which deeply enhanced the content, quantity, and the moral values of the audience of medieval literature. The Bubonic Plagues spurred a craving for something more, or better out of life. It led them to a renewed spiritual level, and higher standards of morals and values. This new hunger was eventually reached during the Renaissance era, which aided in benefiting culture and society of Europe drastically. Europe still remains one of the larges countries in the world, surviving, and even benefiting through the Black Death.