During the 14th century the Order continued to grow, but at a considerably slower pace. By the end of the century, there were about three hundred houses, as many again as in the previous century, but it took twice as long to do it. A certain letup was to be expected after the first fervor had passed. There were other causes: the fact that the Order came to maturity in a waning society was one. The Black Death was another.
This grim reaper, which in the years 1348 to 1349 harvested, some say, as much as half the population of Europe, claimed its share of the mendicant orders; their apostolate among city dwellers made them particularly vulnerable.
Surprisingly, little information is available about this striking phenomenon, still less about its effect on the Carmelites. At the general chapter in 1348, two hundred friars perished during the sessions or while traveling to and from the meeting. The convent in Avignon lost 66 members; the necrology of Florence lists more than a 100 dead in the Tuscan province during these years. The convent in London lost 24 members in one year of the plague. Papal dispensations from the full course of studies for the doctorate had to be requested on account of the shortage of masters due to the plague.