- The Oxford Handbook of Early Modern European History, 1350–1750
- List of Figures
- List of Tables
- List of Maps
- List of Illustrations
- List of Contributors
- Introduction: ‘Early Modern’ Europe and the Idea of Early Modernity
- The Cartographic Emergence of Europe?
- Weather, Climate, and the Environment
- Disease and Medicine
- Historical Demography
- Travel and Communications
- Languages and Literacy
- Printing and Printedness
- A Revolution in Information?
- Economic and Social Trends
- The Social Order
- Households and Family Systems
- Social Roles and Individual Identities
- Consumption and Material Life
- The Agrarian West
- The Agrarian East
- Country and Town in Mediterranean Europe
- Towns and Urbanization
- The Christian Church, 1370<i>–</i>1550
- Protestantism and its Adherents
- Early Modern Catholicism
- The World of Eastern Orthodoxy
- The Transformations of Judaism
- Islam and Muslims in Europe
- Cultures of Peoples
- Belief and its Limits
- Index of Names and Places
- Index of Subjects
Abstract and Keywords
This chapter provides an introduction to environmental history and discusses the economic and ecological dimensions of agrarian societies in relation to weather and climate. Agricultural production of biomass, food, animal feed, and forest produce, powered by the sun, was their only source of energy, the supply of which fluctuated according to weather conditions and could not be increased on a per capita basis. Weather patterns in western and central Europe are known in outline after 1200, and in more detail after 1500. During the Little Ice Age, from 1300 to 1900, the winter half year (October to March) was colder than today. Cold springs followed by rainy summers, repeatedly triggered by volcanic explosions in the tropics, led to harvest failures and famines, often in synergy with wars. These were particularly frequent between 1570 and 1630, in the mid-seventeenth century and during the 1690s.
Christian Pfister, Chair of Economic, Social and Environmental History, Universität Bern, Switzerland.
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