The plague that ravaged Europe during the 14th century killed close to half its population. It had apparently arrived from Asia, and stopped in the Middle East before continuing on to Europe. The plague also brought about significant social changes. Some historians credit the birth of capitalism to that period, because the lack of a work force pushed up wages, and may have initiated the consumer revolution of the 15th and 16th centuries. More interestingly: It also considerably weakened the power of the Church. As Barbara Tuchman explained in “A Distant Mirror,” her entertaining and popular account of the bubonic plague in the Late Middle Ages, the pandemic accelerated discontent with the Church.