Crisis of the Late Middle Ages  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The Crisis of the Late Middle Ages refers to a series of events in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries that brought centuries of European prosperity and growth to a halt. Three major crises led to radical changes in all areas of society - they were demographic collapse, political instabilities and religious upheavals.

A series of famines and plagues, beginning with the Great Famine of 1315-1317 and especially the Black Death of 1348, reduced the population perhaps by half or more as the Medieval Warm Period came to a close and the 1st century of the Little Ice Age began. Along with depopulation came social unrest and endemic warfare. Soil exhaustion, overpopulation, wars, and epidemic diseases helped cause hundreds of famines in Europe during the Middle Ages, including 95 in Britain and 75 in France. In France, the Hundred Years' War, crop failures and epidemics reduced the population by two-thirds.

Popular revolts in late medieval Europe and civil wars between nobles within countries such as the Wars of the Roses were common, and there were international conflicts between kings such as France and England in the Hundred Years' War. The unity of the Roman Catholic Church was shattered by the Western Schism. The Holy Roman Empire was also in decline, in the aftermath of the Interregnum (1247-1273), the Empire lost cohesion and politically the separate dynasties of the various German states became more important than their common empire.


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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Crisis of the Late Middle Ages" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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