https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/02/scheidel-great-leveler-inequality-violence/517164/https://politics.slashdot.org/story/17/02/21/2114240/the-only-thing-historically-thats-curbed-inequality-catastrophehttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_CompressionThe Atlantic has an interesting article on how societies havedecreased economic equality. From the report: "Calls to make Americagreat again hark back to a time when income inequality receded even asthe economy boomed and the middle class expanded. Yet it is all tooeasy to forget just how deeply this newfound equality was rooted inthe cataclysm of the world wars. The pressures of total war became auniquely powerful catalyst of equalizing reform, spurringunionization, extensions of voting rights, and the creation of thewelfare state. During and after wartime, aggressive governmentintervention in the private sector and disruptions to capital holdingswiped out upper-class wealth and funneled resources to workers; evenin countries that escaped physical devastation and cripplinginflation, marginal tax rates surged upward. Concentrated for the mostpart between 1914 and 1945, this 'Great Compression' (as economistscall it) of inequality took several more decades to fully run itscourse across the developed world until the 1970s and 1980s, when itstalled and began to go into reverse. This equalizing was a rareoutcome in modern times but by no means unique over the long run ofhistory. Inequality has been written into the DNA of civilization eversince humans first settled down to farm the land. Throughout history,only massive, violent shocks that upended the established order provedpowerful enough to flatten disparities in income and wealth. Theyappeared in four different guises: mass-mobilization warfare, violentand transformative revolutions, state collapse, and catastrophicepidemics. Hundreds of millions perished in their wake, and by thetime these crises had passed, the gap between rich and poor hadshrunk."
The first bubonic plague in England in 1340s led to a huge shortage
of labor and ultimately contributed to the end of serfdom..
The English government handled the crisis well, and the country did not experience the extreme reactions that were seen elsewhere in Europe. The most immediate consequence was a halt to the campaigns of the Hundred Years' War. In the long term, the decrease in population caused a shortage of labour, with subsequent rise in wages, resisted by the landowners, which caused deep resentment among the lower classes. The Peasants' Revolt of 1381 was largely a result of this resentment, and even though the rebellion was suppressed, in the long term serfdom was ended in England. The Black Death also affected artistic and cultural efforts, and may have helped advance the use of the vernacular.