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Climate and the Crises of the Early Fourteenth Century in Northeastern Europe

Climate and the Crises of the Early Fourteenth Century in Northeastern Europe

By Heli Huhtamaa

The Crisis of the 14th Century: Teleconnections between Environmental and Societal Change? edited by Martin Bauch and Gerrit Jasper Schenk (DeGruyter, 2019)

Abstract: This article demonstrates how tree-ring material can be applied to historical research using the climate-driven crises of the fourteenth century as a case study. Medieval northeastern Europe is a promising case study for such a purpose, because climate-sensitive tree-ring data are readily available for this period and region. Whereas large areas of western Europe were affected by continuous heavy rains and bitter winters during the 1310s, this dendrochronological evidence suggests that northeastern Europe was not. Favorable climatic conditions prevailed in northeastern Europe in the late 1310s, and, more generally speaking, during the first half of the fourteenth century, as well.

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The juxtaposition of this new information from tree-ring analyses with the established understanding of the development of the region challenges the view that the crises of the fourteenth century reached the northeasternmost corner of Europe. The case study demonstrates how teleconnections of climate and society, like the crises of the early fourteenth century, can materialize on a societal level very different ways in different locations.

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Top Image: Photo courtesy European Space Agency

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