The Great Famine of 1315–1317 was the first crisis that would strike Europe in the late Middle Ages.The period between 1348 and 1420 witnessed the heaviest loss. The population of France was reduced by half.Medieval Britain was afflicted by 95 famines,and France suffered the effects of 75 or more in the same period. Europe was devastated in the mid-14th century by the Black Death, one of the most deadly pandemics in human history which killed an estimated 25 million people in Europe alone—a third of the European population at the time.
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The plague had a devastating effect on Europe’s social structure; it induced people to live for the moment as illustrated by Giovanni Boccaccio in The Decameron (1353). It was a serious blow to the Roman Catholic Church and led to increased persecution of Jews, beggars, and lepers.The plague is thought to have returned every generation with varying virulence and mortalities until the 18th century. During this period, more than 100 plague epidemics swept across Europe.
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