托福阅读真题+题目+答案：Economic Decline in Europe During the Fourteenth Century
After three hundred years of impressive gains in wealth and population, Europe’s economy began to slow around 1300. Several factors accounted for the decline. One the most important, though perhaps the least dramatic to relate, was a shift in climate. The remarkably fair weather of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries took a decided turn for the worse in the fourteenth. Chronicler’s comments, tree-ring examination, and pollen analysis all indicate that over the course of the fourteenth century Europe’s average annual temperature declined approximately two degrees Celsius—which may sound like very little at first, but if one considers current projections about the possible effects of global warming, in which the average annual temperature shift is only one degree Celsius, a rather different impression emerges. As the temperature dropped, shortening the summer growing season and affecting the resilience of certain vegetable species, the wind and rain increased. This meant that crop yields declined precipitously and the agricultural economy began to contract. As food supplies dwindled, costs rose accordingly and cut into the amount of capital that people had available for other purchases or investments. This in turn added to the gradual construction of the commercial economy.
Just as significant were changes in the geopolitics of the Mediterranean world. The decline of the Byzantine Empire, which had dominated the eastern Mediterranean, meant the interruption or trade routes to central and eastern Asia. The rise of new political powers signaled a new era in Mediterranean connections, one in which religious loyalty and ethnic fidelity mattered more than commercial ties. Consequently the movement of goods and services between east and west began to slow. European interest in circumnavigating Africa and exploring westward into the Atlantic Ocean, in fact, originated in the desire to avoid the roadblock in the eastern Mediterranean and to tap directly into the trade with eastern Asia that had long sustained Europe’s economic growth.
A more immediate cause of the sputtering economy was an observable absence: since the eleventh century there had been few significant changes in the technology of agriculture. Developments like the wheeled plow, the rotation of crops, and the use of natural fertilizer that had made possible the agricultural revolution of the past two hundred years had had no follow-up. Farming was still conducted in 1300 roughly the same way it had been done in 1100, but with a considerably larger population to feed, there was little surplus left to generate fresh capital. As a consequence, food production fell perilously close to subsistence level. Although the failure of agriculture to keep up with the growing population did not become a crisis until the fourteenth century, clear signs of the problem had already emerged by the middle of the thirteenth century, when occasionally low yields due to bad weather or social disruption revealed how perilous the balance between Europe’s population and its food supply had become. Apart from territories beset by war, the tentativeness of the food supply became evident first on the farmlands most recently brought under cultivation during the economic depression of the twelfth century. The less established farmers of these lands frequently did not have the means to survive successive poor harvests. Tenant farmers unable to pay their rents thus began to slip into debt,and landlords who depended on rents for their income began to rely increasingly on urban financiers for credit.
Even whole governments became entangled in the credit crisis, England being the most notable example. The cycle of indebtedness was hardly inevitable, but the string of bank failures and commercial collapses in the first half of the fourteenth century was striking. The famed Bardi and Peruzzi banks of Florence (the two largest financial houses of Europe) collapsed spectacularly in the 1340’s. They were soon followed by the Riccardi bank of Lucca, whose massive loans had kept the English government afloat for years. Many more houses collapsed in turn.
An important demographic trend resulted from and contributed to the economic malaise: large-scale migration of rural populations into the cities. Europe’s overall population growth from 1050 to 1300 had been primarily due to an increase in the number of rural folk. But as economic forces made agrarian life more perilous around 1300, hard-pressed farmers and their families began to migrate to the cities in large numbers in search of work. Many cities doubled in size, and some even tripled, over the course of just one or two generations. Few were capable of absorbing such large numbers of people.
1. The word “accounted for” in the passage is closet in meaning to
2. Why does the author mention “current projections about the possible effects of global warming” in the passage?
A.To argue that global warning was a factor in the climate shift of the fourteenth century in Europe
B. To suggest that the current climate change is greater than the climate change in the fourteenth century in Europe
C.To show the direct connection between temperature changes in the fourteenth century and changes that are currently occurring in Europe
D. To emphasize the impact of the temperature change that occurred during the fourteenth century in Europe
3. In paragraph 1, all of the following are mentioned as factors that contributed to the decline of the agricultural economy in the fourteenth century EXCEPT
A.an increase in rain and wind
B. a shortened growing season
C. the investment of capital in areas other than agriculture
D. a significant drop in temperature Paragraph 1 is marked with an arrow [→].
4. In paragraph 2, the author implies that the Byzantine Empire
A.allowed international trade from which Europe benefited
B. became a dominant force during the fourteenth century
C. centered its rule on religion and ethnic ties
D. interrupted trade routes to Asia that had already been established Paragraph 2 is marked with an arrow [→].
5. According to paragraph 2, European interest in exploring the coast of Africa and the Atlantic Ocean grew out of a wish to
A.build a roadblock against Asian powers
B. restore valuable trade with eastern Asia
C. create faster trade routes to eastern Asia
D. connect trade between the eastern Mediterranean and the Atlantic Ocean Paragraph 2 is marked with an arrow [→].
6. According to paragraph 3, what was one cause of the economic problems in Europe of the fourteenth century?
A.Farming techniques produced insufficient amounts of food.
B. Territories that farmers had begun to use for agriculture for the first time were disrupted by war.
C. The technological improvements in farming made in earlier centuries were abandoned after 1300.
D. Farming techniques used capital that was needed for investment in the development of technology. Paragraph 3 is marked with an arrow [→].
7. Which of the sentences below best expresses the essential information in the highlighted sentence in the passage? Incorrect choices change the meaning in important ways or leave out essential information.
A.Maintaining the population of Europe with existing food supplies continued to be a problem after the middle of the thirteenth century.
B. The delicate balance between population and food supply in Europe was apparent in years of poor harvest half a century before it became a crisis in the fourteenth century.
C. Clear signals of the emerging crisis in Europe appeared in the thirteenth century in the form of bad weather, social unrest, and insufficient food.
D. In the thirteenth century, a problem emerged in Europe when the food supply was sufficient to feed the population only occasionally.
8. The word “considerably” in the passage is closet in meaning to
9. It can be inferred from paragraph 3 that people who farmed on land recently brought under cultivation were at a bigger disadvantage than well-established farmers in fourteenth-century Europe because
A.their land was located in areas that were engaged in war
B. they relied on urban financiers for credit
C. they had no surplus on which to live or money to pay their rent
D. they did not use wheeled plows, rotate their crops, or use natural fertilizer Paragraph 3 is marked with an arrow [→].
10. The word “striking” in the passage is closet in meaning to
11. Why does the author mention in the passage that the Bardi and Peruzzi banks were “the two largest financial houses of Europe”?
A.To indicate the connection between Florence banks and the English government
B. To emphasize the great impact that these bank failures had on the economy
C. To compare the Bardi and Peruzzi banks with the Riccardi bank
D. To indicate the success that these banks had previously achieved
Paragraph 5 An important demographic trend resulted from and contributed to the economic malaise: large-scale migration of rural populations into the cities. Europe’s overall population growth from 1050 to 1300 had been primarily due to an increase in the number of rural folk. ■But as economic forces made agrarian life more perilous around 1300, hard-pressed farmers and their families began to migrate to the cities in large numbers in search of work. ■Many cities doubled in size, and some even tripled, over the course of just one or two generations. ■Few were capable of absorbing such large numbers of people. ■
12. Paragraph 5 suggests that the large-scale migration to cities resulted in which of the following?
A.After two generations in the cities, migrants returned to agricultural life.
B. The overall population in Europe declined.
C. Farmers worked in cities, and their families worked the land.
D. Cities contained large numbers of people who were unemployed. Paragraph 5 is marked with an arrow [→].
13. Look at the four squares [■] that indicate where the following sentence could be added to the passage. Farms, villages, and entire regions were abandoned.
Where would the sentence best fit? Click on a square [■] to add the sentence to the passage.
14. Directions: An introductory sentence for a brief summary of the passage is provided below. Complete the summary by selecting the THREE answer choices that express the most important ideas in the passage. Some answer choices do not belong in the summary because they express ideas that are not presented in the passage or are minor ideas in the passage. This question is worth 2 points. Drag your choices to the spaces where they belong. To review the passage, click on View Text.
The economic decline in Europe during the fourteenth century resulted from several factors.
● ● ●
1. Climate changes affected agricultural production, which led to food shortages.
2.The loss of trade with central and east Asia negatively impacted economic growth.
3. England was among the nations that suffered a credit loss.
4.The performance of the commercial economy could not keep pace with the agricultural economy.
5.The lack of innovation in agricultural technology affected food production.
6. Migrations from city to rural areas led to an increase in the number of rural folk.