“Europe on the eve of its fifteenth-century expansion into the Atlantic was a civilization just beginning to recover from a century-long crisis. The fourteenth century was marked by famine, plague, invasion, rebellion and war. Failed harvests brought famine in the north in 1315-17 and into the south by 1346-47. A new cooler climate, known as the Little Ice Age, limited the growing season and reduced harvests. At mid-century, the infamous Black Death spread from Asia to the Middle East and then engulfed Europe… The plague devastated a European population that had exceeded its capacity to feed itself and was already in decline. In many regions of Western Europe, disease felled one-third to one-half of the population… Major epidemics returned again and again in the second half of the fourteenth century…One hundred years would pass before Europe’s population began to recover from this demographic collapse.” – Pages 36 to 38 of The Atlantic World: Europeans, Africans, Indians and Their Shared History, 1400 – 1900 by Thomas Benjamin.