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Labour after the Black Death

30 January 1351
Jean II le Bon enters Paris in 1350

After the plague called Black Death (1348-1351), Europe struggled with labour shortage and rulers in several countries promulgated laws to tackle the problem. The French king Jean II, surnamed 'the Good', proclaimed his 'Ordinance sur les métiers de la ville de Paris' on 30 January 1351. In addition to setting ceilings on prices and wages, the ordinance included an extensive series of measures to curtail begging. Unemployed, able-bodied men and women were required to accept any work offered to earn their keep. Both the mendicants and the inhabitants of Paris were prohibited from giving alms to those capable of working, and this category excluded only the blind, the disabled, and other 'unfortunate persons'.

From: Catharina Lis and Hugo Soly, Labour Laws in Western Europe, 13th-16th Centuries, in Working on Labor, 2012, pp 299-321.