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Oxted & District History Society
 
 

Imogen Corrigan, former Army Major and current Medieval specialist, gave an illustrated lecture to the Oxted & District History Society on ‘The Black Death’ its impact and its aftermath.


The most famous outbreak of the Black Death reached England from Europe in 1348.  Modern research indicates that between half and two-thirds of the population died, more than previously thought.  This was much worse than more modern disasters e.g. World War I, when 2% of our population died.  The Plague also returned every decade until the end of the 15th Century.  Various shortcomings were blamed for the outbreak such as vanity and wickedness.  The breakdown in law and order was even worse in Europe.  Morality collapsed in Paris, where academics blamed planetary events.  In Rome and Sweden relics were carried in processions to ward off the Plague.  Elsewhere groups of flagellants marched round beating themselves to avert the Plague.  Minorities were blamed.  Lepers were burnt to death in Languedoc and Jews were killed in Strasburg.


Labour was in very short supply following the outbreak.  Survivors demanded higher wages and better working conditions. A 1351 Statute was passed to fix wage levels.  Feudalism broke down.  There was much empty cheap land and the better paid labourers could buy their own smallholdings.



 

The Black Death by Imogen Corrigan,