the black death, not all bad!

Feudalism was a hard master, your life (as a peasant of any rank) revolved around keeping the manorial lands productive. Much of you time would be spent in labour on the land, ploughing, sowing, reaping, shearing, fencing etc. In addition you had your own land to tend to, if any of your labours were considered substandard you would be up in front of the manorial court and fined accordingly.

Feudalism was in decline through to the middle ages due to a number of factors but not least amongst them was the Black Death. Y. pestis decimated the population and put labour at a premium, many houses were empty, much land was left uncultivated, taxes and tithes were no longer flowing into the coffers of the manor.

Pre plague the post of Reeve was considered a privilege, post plague it was a curse. Trying to extract labour from what was left of the community was an impossible task, the manor now had to pay for labour whereas previously this had been rare except for skilled workers.

The village was in decline as a hub for commerce and community, many were deserted as the survivors looked further afield for work. Towns grew and became the new centres of commerce, even more so with the advent of the Industrial Revolution.

The result of these changes, not an exhaustive list by any means, has given us the village as we understand it today. The land is no longer worked by the people that live in it, that is now left to a few with machinery. Our standard of living is certainly better and our health much improved but we have lost something and should consider ourselves somewhat poorer for it.