The Third Horseman

The Third Horseman

Climate Change and the Great Famine of the 14th Century

Book - 2014
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In May 1315 it started to rain. It didn't stop anywhere in north Europe until August. Next came the four coldest winters in a millennium. Two separate animal epidemics killed nearly 80 percent of northern Europe's livestock. Wars between Scotland and England, France and Flanders, and two rival claimants to the Holy Roman Empire destroyed all remaining farmland. After seven years, the combination of lost harvests, warfare, and pestilence would claim six million lives -- one eighth of Europe's total population. William Rosen draws on a wide array of disciplines, from military history to feudal law to agricultural economics and climatology, to trace the succession of traumas that caused the Great Famine. With dramatic appearances by Scotland's William Wallace, the luckless Edward II, and his treacherous Queen Isabella, history's best-documented episode of catastrophic climate change comes alive, with powerful implications for future calamities.
Publisher: New York : Viking, c2014.
ISBN: 9780670025893
Characteristics: 302 p. : ill., maps.


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Feb 25, 2019

I expected a broader account of what consequences climate had on Europe in that period. It is by no means a bad book, but I was surprised by the focus on the Scotland/England conflict. The author actually explains at some point that he felt the need to narrow the scope to a particular region, I just wish that maybe the publisher had mentioned it on the cover or something.
It was interesting to read how many factors, including weather obviously, coincided to make that period of the Middle Ages in Europe so volatile.

ChristchurchLib Jun 30, 2014

Documents the early 14th-century period of rain, cold, disease and warfare that created the worst famine in European history, tracing the epidemics and lost harvests that cost nearly 80 percent of the region's livestock and some six million human lives. July 2014 History and Current Events Newsletter.

Jun 12, 2014

Despite the title, this is as much a political history as anything else, with particular focus on English/Scottish conflicts. It does a good job of connecting weather disasters with political events.

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