I am in the midst of researching a novel that will be set in the time of the Great Plague. Statistics vary but most agree that between half and two-thirds of the population died in 1349 in Great Britain. No wonder that it was called the Great Death.
It was an interesting time. Society changed quite significantly due to this stagger change in population. Some people felt that they had to enjoy life because it could disappear in a moment. Some found their faith and others lost it. Doctors profited from the desperation of sick people during the plague. Many would not accept plague-sick patients because there was no cure and it would cause a problem for the doctor’s reputation.
Some monateries would take the sick in and would look after them. Those tended to lose a large number of their monks . Those that closed their doors to the sick fared better. Many in the hierarchy of the church would run to the countryside to hide from the plague. This was horrific for the sick as they believed that without being able to confess on their deathbed they would be unable to get into heaven. With so many sick and dying it was impossible to keep up and many went to their grave unshriven.
It’s hard to imagine the impact of the loss of so many people on a society. Some benefitted but most were gravely defeated by the onslaught. The survivors carried on. A few went mad while others gained much by the changes.