Lesson 15
Wages and the Black Death

Students will learn that a plague called the Black Death caused a large decrease in the population of Europe in the 14th century as well as an increase in workers' wages. Students will also learn that efforts by European producers and governments to resist wage increases, such as the Statute of Laborers in 1351, were unsuccessful. As workers' wages rose, they experienced an increase in their standard of living. Producers switched to raising sheep and other activities that required less labor. Students will complete a sequence chart on which they will record the order of events after fleas and rats spread the plague throughout Europe. The final activity of the lesson is an imaginary trial in which the black rat is accused of responsibility for the Black Death. Selected students will read the testimony of the trial and the other students will serve as jurors and decide the guilt or innocence of the black rat.


  • Costs of Production
  • Labor
  • Labor Market
  • Market
  • Product
  • Production
  • Productive Resources
  • Productivity
  • Resources
  • Scarcity
  • Standard of Living
  • Wage
  • Work
  • Workers

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