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How the ‘Black Death’ Pandemic Reshaped Europe’s Feudal Economy

  • Adoption of new technologies like printing press accelerated
  • Pent-up demand fuels Renaissance art era, historian Wyman says
Many people affected by the plague. (Photo by Photo12/UIG/Getty Images)
Many people affected by the plague. (Photo by Photo12/UIG/Getty Images)Source: Universal Images Group/Getty Images

The introduction of an effective Covid-19 vaccine means the light at the end of the tunnel may be in sight. But it’s hard to know what the post-crisis period has in store. What will it mean for the economy? How will society have changed? Nobody knows. Still, we can talk about history.

On a recent episode of the “Odd Lots” podcast, we talked with Patrick Wyman, the host of the “Tides of History” podcast, to discuss the Black Death in the 1300s, and the ramifications seen in its aftermath. Of course, the Covid-19 pandemic is nowhere near as deadly as the Black Death, which killed millions of people across Europe. Nonetheless, it was a historic disruption to everyday life, the likes of which we haven’t seen in most of our lifetimes.

So what did the plague bring about? For one thing, a massive shortage of labor and the collapse of the feudal economy, which was already in decline. Below are a few partially edited quotes from Wyman from our discussion:

For the whole discussion, listen here.