The reflection about the impact of climate on human society goes back to antiquity. It has gained renewed intensity with the discussion about climate change and its possible anthropogenic causes in the last decades.
A Collapse of the Eastern Mediterranean? New results and theories on the interplay between climate and societies in Byzantium and the Near East, ca. 1000–1200 AD
Volcanoes have long fascinated people. They have know how dangerous they can be, but throughout history many have tried to figure what causes them. Here is the explanation given by the medieval scholar Albert the Great.
This dissertation explores the intersections between nature and culture in medieval literature and art with particular focus on Geoffrey Chaucer’s House of Fame, the thirteenth-century French Bible Moralisée, and William Langland’s Piers Plowman.
The Mongol invasion of Eastern Europe, and especially its sudden withdrawal from Hungary in 1242 CE, has generated much speculation and an array of controversial theories. None of them, however, considered multifaceted environmental drivers and the coupled analysis of historical reports and natural archives.
This paper describes in brief the historical evolution of forest management in Europe and in Japan and the motivations of these changes. In particular, the paper analyses three periods: pre-industrial (from the Middle-ages until the mid-17th century), industrial (from the mid-17th until the mid-20th century) and the post-industrial period (from the late-20th century until today)
‘This was the most dramatic cooling in the Northern Hemisphere in the past 2000 years.’
All over the North Sea Area the later Middle Ages saw repeated flood disasters and massive land losses in coastal wetlands: in England, the Low Countries, Northern Germany and Southern Scandinavia thousands of hectares of reclaimed land and hundreds of villages were lost to the sea.
The 1356 Basel earthquake is well known as one of the most damaging events in intra-plate Europe within historical times. It was one of several devastating catastrophes in the 14th century.
Here are ten of the most important natural disasters that took place in the Middle Ages.
Mediaeval chronicles describe 21 tornadoes in Britain prior to the year 1500. Although the meanings of some of the accounts appear unclear at first sight, the features reported can nearly always be explained by reference to modern tornado cases.
This study attempts to provide illustrations of how climate may have influenced architectural features during the Middle Ages.
‘The Worst Disaster Suffered by the People of Scotland in Recorded History’: Climate Change, Dearth and Pathogens in the Long Fourteenth Century
It is not the aim of this essay to provide an environmental history of medieval Scotland or even just of the fourteenth century in Scotland; that is a much larger task than can be addressed here. Rather, the intention is to explore the nature of the evidence that is available within the documentary record and place it alongside the various forms of proxy data for climate history to produce a synthetic narrative.
I posit that the components of the environment play a role in the deployment of the narrative by shaping the characters and influencing the action.
This study will compare the ways in which three vastly different European cities and their civic institutions, London England – the Chartered Capital of a Kingdom, Siena Italy – an Oligarchic Republic, and Gdansk Poland – the reluctant territory of a Theocratic state
What was England’s weather like 746 years ago?
This essay explores the environmental agendas and ambitions that motivate John Timothy Rothwell, ‘a mad biker chieftain wielding an axe,’ who, claiming to be a ‘post-Thatcher’ King Arthur,
In a paper published in the world-leading scientific journal, Nature, Dr Conor Kostick’s research into medieval evidence for climate events has allowed scientists to pinpoint the exact relationship between historical volcanic activity and severe winters.
What was causing extreme weather in the Middle Ages? A medieval historian is starting to examine how chroniclers and writers from this period were turning to the night sky to better understand and perhaps prevent natural disasters.
One of the dangers a medieval traveller might face when crossing through mountainous terrain is the threat of avalanches.
What did medieval people think of trees? Here are a few observations about the role trees played in the spiritual and cultural life of the Middle Ages.
Iron production may be used as a window through which to view, in part, the economic structure of Icelandic society during the Viking Age (c. AD 870-1000) and Early Medieval (AD 1000-1264) periods.
Luca Landucci writes about lightning strikes in 15th century Florence.
Environmental archaeologist and Professor of Archeology at Reading, Dr. Aleks Pluskowski, examined Malbork and several other sites across Eastern and Northern Europe in his recent paper, The Ecology of Crusading: The Environmental Impact of Holy War, Colonisation, and Religious Conversion in the Medieval Baltic. Pluskowski is keenly interested in the impact the Teutonic Knights and Christian colonisation had on the region. His ambitious 4 year project on the ecological changes in this area recently came to a close at the end of 2014.
Local and Traditional on the Millennial Scale: Sustainable Waterfowl Management from Viking Age Iceland
Inhabited by Vikings since approximately 600 AD, the islands hosts an abundant, but terribly fragile resource, puffins, flightless birds that nest on rocky exposed cliffs, in easy range of the islanders other prime food source, pigs.
Thanks to a bit of genetic sleuthing, researchers now know the invasion history of the tropical fire ant, the first ant species known to travel the globe by sea.