Western Europe From 600-1400
An essay dealing with Western Europe from 600 to 1450.
Characterized by frequent warfare, famine, civil unrest, revolutions, and movement, Western Europe was and is a center of constant change. There was always something going on in Western Europe, people always on the move. Countries were always rising and falling, leading to massive demographic fluctuations. Between 600 and 1450, Western Europe experienced dramatic changes in population size and density, due to disease and warfare, but the diversity of cultures in Western Europe hardly changed at all.
Western Europe’s population size was always changing, shrinking and growing at fantastic rates. It fell due to an increase of warfare in the 1320’s, due in turn to the introduction of cannon. It fell previously to famines, which started in 1290 and ended in 1317, a result, ironically, of massive population growth. In 1348, the Bubonic plague broke out, which killed almost a quarter of the population. It fell again when the Hundred Year’s war broke out in 1338, and did not rise until its end, in 1453.
As a result of size fluctuations, the density of Western Europe’s population fluctuated as well. Part of the reason, however was the formation of governments, which attracted many because of the stability they offered. Density increased with Charlemagne’s rise to power. It also increased greatly when the English Parliament was established in 1265. Density fell greatly when England was conquered in 1066, and again during the crusades, when many Europeans seized the chance to go to the Middle East due to the riches and religious drive. Again, the Bubonic plague played a major role in the downsizing of population density, as many towns and cities were abandoned throughout its duration.
Diversity, however, maintained a constant standing. The Muslims and the Ottomans to south remained closed to European influence. Russia to the East was sealed off, starting with the Ivans. Not many Europeans wanted to go east or south anyway. Warfare and constant skirmishes between kingdoms kept people separated and occupied.
Because population size and density are so closely related, and because of the comparatively small amount of space in Europe, both were affected by the other. Any sudden increase in size, and density levels would reflect it. Diversity did not change much as Europe was gradually isolated by external politics, especially with the Russian political purges and killings. Internal politics also kept diversity levels continuous through warfare. Europe remained a place of isolation and hardship, up to the time of the Renaissance.