By Michael Wu (On October 22, 2018)
A storyboard showing how Europe changed because of the Black Death as well as John Ball and Wat Tyler.
The Black Death Strikes
Before the Black Death, Europe's population was mostly peasants and serfs (about 90%) who farmed land overseen by a handful of lords. The lords and nobles protected the peasants in exchange for money, food, and services. This system (feudalism) lasted in Europe for almost 1000 years.
The Black Death sweeps through Europe, killing much of its population and causing huge labour shortages. This meant that the lords had less income, and since they needed money to fund the Hundred Years War, they lowered wages and set poll taxes.
The Peasants Revolt
John Ball was an English priest who believed in social equality (that all classes are equal). He believed that the Black Death was a message from God that the lords are unfit to lead.
John Ball and Wat Tyler, a former knight, plan to lead a revolt against the nobility. The cause of this revolt is the plague, the famine, and the heavy taxes.
The peasants revolt occurred in England in 1381 lead by Wat Tyler and John Ball. They killed any nobles they saw and burned down many important buildings. However, the revolt eventually fell apart and both men were killed.
Although the revolution ultimately failed, the revolt did have positive effects too. First, the reputations of the nobles was hurt, which helped lead to the development of modern nation-states. Secondly, the peasants that survived did earn higher wages and freedom, allowing for the rise of a new middle class focused on trade. This strengthened the economy and helped connect different cultures.