When the Black Death swept Europe in 1348-1351 it left about 30% of the population dead. This greatly affected the English peasants because there was a labour shortage and food was scarce. Even some thirty years later, life had not returned to normal -the settled and structured country life of the Middle Ages was disrupted, and discontent was rife amongst the poor. This was a law passed at the end of the Black Death to stop the peasants taking advantage of the shortage of workers and demanding more money. Peasants were forced to work for the same wages as before, and landowners could insist on labour services being performed, instead of accepting money (commutation). This meant that the landowners could profit from shortages, whilst life was made very much harder for the peasants..