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"Black death" was a powerful natural factor of natural selection
Material posted : Administrator Publication date: 13-04-2020

Pandemic COVID-19's already claimed tens of thousands of lives and dealt a powerful blow to the economy from which the world will not soon recover. The world will never be the same, but that doesn't mean it will be worse, most likely it will change for the better. What they will be are hard to say, but, for example, it is already clear that the pandemic is associated with a massive shift to remote work will cause explosive growth of digital technologies. The world is waiting for other, more large-scale changes. At least this teaches the experience of epidemics and pandemics of the past.

American economists Elizabeth Brainerd and mark Sigler had calculated that after the pandemic the Spanish flu, which in the world from 1918 to 1920, according to various estimates, killed from 20 million to 100 million people, the North American States, stronger than others affected by the epidemic have evolved faster than the others. In addition, each additional death per thousand population was associated with an average annual growth of real income per capita is low by 0.15 percentage points.

Dr. Sharon N. The DeWitt of US who have studied medieval burials of London before and after the bubonic plague of 1346-1353 years, came to the conclusion that the "black death", as they called the disease, improved health of the population.

Hitting people with poor health, black death, apparently, was a powerful natural factor of natural selection, removing from the population weakened individuals," says the scientist.

In the graves that appeared after the plague more adults and older people than in the tombs prior to the epidemic, and therefore, Douaumont population increased. No matter how cynical it sounds, but infectious diseases killed people with weak immunity, but survivors grow more healthy offspring.

In fact in the history was a bit of cataclysms that would change the world like the plague pandemic in the middle of the XIV century. It has undermined the influence of the Church, radically changed the relations of production, gave a powerful impetus to the development of technologies and consequently increase in production. You can say the world is upside down.

So, prior to the epidemic, the medicine was the prerogative of the Church, being rather abstract, scholastic science, not connected with real life. This medicine could not cope with the plague, so after the "black death" health care took in their hands the laity, moving from abstract theorizing to experimentation and practical pharmacology.

Although the epidemic ended in 1353, the plague was raging and after 1400, mowing down thousands of people and forcing Europeans to adapt to new conditions. The epidemic has killed more than half of the European population from 75 million to 100 million people. With this failure of labor required technology replaced manual labor or make it more productive. Appeared depleted plough, watermills and windmills.

Even such a seemingly simple device like a car invented in that time, greatly improved the productivity. Glasses, scales and other necessary for the development of science and trade instruments were first created after the plague.
Has been actively developing farming: it required less labor. Increased production of wool and fabrics, so I was able to not only feed, but also clothe the entire nation.


One of the fundamental changes was the change in perception of time, because if death is behind you, it becomes precious. Concentrated around the Church and religion the world before the plague was surprisingly untimely. Time belonged to God, and the main instrument for measuring time was the sundial. In the tenth century there was even a pocket sun-dial. The right thing, if you want to know that the court: morning, afternoon or night. But a more accurate time on such clock is difficult to determine. In Europe after the plague, when I started to establish the formula "time — money", it took precision instruments, capable to measure it.

Mechanical and hourglass appeared in the period when Europe was raging plague. Work suddenly became highly valued. Workers sold his expensive and had the right: after the "black death" of workers was never enough. Forced labour gave way to the free market of labor, and wages became time. Along with wage labor, it has spread to the mines, mills, textile manufactories and other industries, pushing bondage and even piecework. But this method of payment is demanded, reliable and fair instrument for measuring time.

Before the advent of mechanical clocks, the workers were paid for a day's work. But what is the day? In the winter it lasts for five hours and in the summer, all fifteen. When there is no clear meter time, there is no fair pay. With the advent of the mechanical clock by the Europeans were able to accurately measure the time spent on their work.

A mechanical watch, in turn, made it possible to create with the invention in XIII–XIV centuries the trigger mechanism. In the XIV century in many European cities, has installed the tower clock. It's surprising that such a seemingly simple device like an hourglass, too, appeared in the middle of the XIV century. And if clock tower tolled the hour for all, the hourglass showed him where the chiming clock did not get: in the mines, the manufactories, ships and in University classrooms.

But most important, they guaranteed fair pay, becoming a major factor in increasing the productivity and growth of the productive forces.

The printing press as a replacement for ill monks

Another invention that defined the vector of development of Europe for many centuries to come, was typography. It, in 1439, invented by Johann Gutenberg. As is always the case, in the invention together new technologies and the pressing needs of the society. Why these needs have arisen after the plague? For the same reasons that have brought about new mechanisms that increase the productivity of labour after the plague the population of Europe decreased more than twice. Died in the epidemic and the monks, who previously worked on the copying of books. It was "mass production" as the request of the community for books has always been high: needed Bibles, prayer-books, textbooks, calendars list of religious holidays. After the plague of copyists, there are very few. But the books had to be published. In addition, the Catholic Church has lost the right to the truth in the high court. The dissent emerged later gave birth to the Reformation. Associated with the Church tendentious manuscripts could not satisfy the new demands of society.

In conditions of labour shortage like never before, needed new mechanisms and technology replaced human labor and ustarevshie the production process. But a technological breakthrough can't happen in a society where ignorance reigns. A book is literacy, knowledge, science. And if 1348-m could read no more than 5% of the European population, by the year 1800 there were more than half. The society wanted to read, and the Gutenberg press came in handy.

The medieval engineer did not just invent the printing press, and created a system of printing. It is primarily a moveable letters for the set, which was cast from alloy of lead, tin and antimony. The casting process letters of this alloy was technologically advanced, and the font is durable. Only 26 letters, and you can print the whole volume.

By the time the paper ceased to be a novelty: in the XIV–XV centuries it has successfully produced the Italian and German manufacture. Its price has dropped significantly. Another technological breakthrough became the "correct" ink for printing on the machine. Gutenberg invented not to make them water-and oil-based. They are not blurred on paper and are well combined with metal letters. After a few years the printing press has conquered Europe: in 1468, the printing press appeared in the Czech Republic in 1472-m in Hungary in 1470-m — in France, 1473-m — in the Netherlands, in 1476-m — in England. 40 years after the invention of the printing press in Europe there were 110 printing presses, and 60 years after the first printed books, there were issued 20 million copies of printed materials.

Without the printing press the ideas of the reformation would not have been able to win the minds and spread across Europe. 95 theses of Martin Luther in 1517 has sold 300 thousand copies. With the development of printing was a new development of the national languages (as you know, in the Middle ages, all the manuscripts were written in Latin) and more people got access to knowledge. The printing press spurred the technological revolution and the development of the economy: there are textbooks, reference books and manuals that taught how to build houses and bridges, conduct mining operations, keep the books, so who knows what else! Similar in importance to the invention appeared only in the twentieth century, and it was the Internet.

Printing printed scientific treatises, mass books, and then Newspapers. So one of the main and far-reaching consequences of the invention of the printing press was to the democratization of knowledge: access it was not only the aristocracy, but also the broad masses, and the Church and the state could no longer control what people read, although such attempts are known to history.

The revolutionary epidemic

Throughout history, epidemic and pandemic not time changed the political map of the world. They started and ended the war, was made a fateful political decisions, they contributed to the colonial conquests and democratic reforms.

For example, communicable diseases highly promoted Spanish colonization of the Americas, decimating at times whole tribes. So it was with the smallpox epidemic which swept South America in 1527. In 1509 the Spanish had brought the disease to Haiti; in 1520, together with the conquistadors, she migrated to the territory of Mexico. The local Indians had never met with the smallpox and had no immunity to it. As a result, Hernán Cortes and Francisco Pizarro was not difficult to destroy the Aztecs and conquer the Inca Empire. In 1789, smallpox came to Australia, and from the 1780s to 1870s years were the main cause of death of aboriginal people.

The most important epidemics in the history of mankind

The first democratic changes in the epidemic occurred in Haiti. It was an epidemic of yellow fever. South America — the birthplace of the disease; in Haiti the French colony of San Domingo that existed since 1659, it, too, from time to time appeared.

Half of the slaves who were brought to the island to work on sugar cane plantations, in the first year were dying from yellow fever. But the remaining formed the immune system.
Harsh living conditions, high mortality, ill-treatment planters and the ideas of the French revolution eventually led to the fact that in 1791 the slaves revolted, quickly engulfed the entire country. After a long struggle, the rebels seized power, and in 1801 in the country's Constitution was adopted. This infuriated Napoleon, then first Consul of France, and he was sent to the colony of a powerful expeditionary force, led by General Leclerc. For a short time the French managed to restore its dominance. Then came the epidemic of yellow fever. The locals, as we remember, she was uneasy, but the expeditionary force has lost more than half of the whole. According to various estimates, the disease has claimed the lives of 23 thousand to 32 thousand soldiers died and General Leclerc. The rebels have won. January 1, 1804, was proclaimed the independence of Saint-Domingue from France, and the new state was named Haiti — so called the land of the Indians, the arawaks. These developments on the background of the Napoleonic wars in Europe led to the fact that Napoleon completely gave up trying to create in the New world French colonial Empire, and in 1803 sold the French possessions in North America to the United States. The transaction has received the name "the Louisiana purchase".

Another democratic revolution took place in Haiti in 1986, and it led to the AIDS epidemic. Doctors and historians argue, who brought to the island disease. Some believe that the culprit — bloody voodoo rituals. Others believe wide spread of AIDS in Haiti — the result of sex tourism from the United States. The article Haitian doctor Jean Guerin and his colleagues, published in 1984, in the scientific journal Annals of the New York Academy of Science, States: 17% of patients admitted to homosexual contacts with the Americans.

However, this is not important. Importantly, the HIV epidemic gained momentum and came to Haiti tourists no longer felt safe, and meanwhile, tourism was the second largest source of income in the country. When in July 1982 the New York Times wrote that in Haiti, HIV is raging, the number of American tourists fell seven times: in 1981-1982 years, there were 70 thousand, in 1983 only 10 thousand Decline continued for another three years. The collapse of the tourism industry caused the economic crisis hit the country and famine and unemployment, followed by mass protests. The President of Haiti Jean-Claude Duvalier, known as Baby Doc, at first brutally suppressed, but to do nothing could and eventually fled the country. Haiti began the transition to democratic rule, and in 1991 was held free presidential elections.

But democratic reforms in Persia (so until 1935 it was called Iran) that followed the Constitutional revolution, contributed to the cholera epidemic. Of course, to call the cholera is the cause of the revolution would be wrong: for change led by internal conflicts and economic problems in the country. But the reason for the beginning of the protests was the disease. In the early twentieth century in a world ravaged sixth cholera pandemic, which originated in 1899 in India. In 1904, the disease was brought to Iran from Iraq Shiite pilgrims. The authorities tried to prevent an epidemic, banning the pilgrimage to the Muslim shrines, but the clergy opposed the ban, accusing the secular leaders in collusion with the "infidels" (meant Western powers) and trying to prevent the believers to perform their religious duties. The government was unable to resist the pressure of the clergy and pilgrims flowed with cholera through sanitary cordons. The disease began to walk in the country. Fearing mass panic, the authorities have long hid what was going on. As a result, the mortality rate is so increased that it was impossible to hide anything. Public discontent was fuelled by the rising prices associated, in particular, with the cholera epidemic. This provoked the protests in the summer of 1906 evolved into open demonstrations demanding to adopt the Constitution. In December 1906 the Shah signed the first part of the basic law, and in October, 1907, adopted amendments to the Constitution that paved the way for the carrying out of bourgeois reforms.

Elena TUEV


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