The Great Famine
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The horrors of the Great Famine (1315-1322), one of the severest catastrophes ever to strike northern Europe, lived on for centuries in the minds of Europeans who recalled tales of widespread hunger, class warfare, epidemic disease, frighteningly high mortality, and unspeakable crimes. Until now, no one has offered a perspective of what daily life was actually like throughout the entire region devastated by this crisis, nor has anyone probed far into its causes. Here, the distinguished historian William Jordan provides the first comprehensive inquiry into the Famine from Ireland to western Poland, from Scandinavia to central France and western Germany. He produces a rich cultural history of medieval community life, drawing his evidence from such sources as meteorological and agricultural records, accounts kept by monasteries providing for the needy, and documentation of military campaigns. Whereas there has been a tendency to describe the food shortages as a result of simply bad weather or else poor economic planning, Jordan sets the stage so that we see the complex interplay of social and environmental factors that caused this particular disaster and allowed it to continue for so long.
Jordan begins with a description of medieval northern Europe at its demographic peak around 1300, by which time the region had achieved a sophisticated level of economic integration. He then looks at problems that, when combined with years of inundating rains and brutal winters, gnawed away at economic stability. From animal diseases and harvest failures to volatile prices, class antagonism, and distribution breakdowns brought on by constant war, northern Europeans felt helplessly besieged by acts of an angry God--although a cessation of war and a more equitable distribution of resources might have lessened the severity of the food shortages.
Throughout Jordan interweaves vivid historical detail with a sharp analysis of why certain responses to the famine failed. He ultimately shows that while the northern European economy did recover quickly, the Great Famine ushered in a period of social instability that had serious repercussions for generations to come.
Navigated at all times. Moreover, long stretches of coastline could be unﬁt for the collection or discharge of goods.9 Consequently, it is good that evidence of infrastructure can be supplemented with voluminous information on tolls. This information, to cite the case of the Meuse River in the Low Countries as one illustration, points in the direction of widespread and intensive utilization of the waterways for transport of goods in the thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries—far in excess of.
The convent’s properties and rights.45 Nonetheless, the situation really did not correct itself until after the agrarian crisis abated and stable leadership reemerged at the convent in 1323. What looks to be a similar appeal to Avignon from a hospital in the diocese of Minden got similar results. Three representatives of the Apostolic See were persuaded in 1317 that a “copious multitude of the inﬁrm, poor, orphans, and weak were pouring to the hospital.” They “were received and sustained there,”.
Reclamation—assarting, for short. Assarting had been made possible on an enormous scale by a metallurgical revolution (dated about the millennium) that permitted the strengthening and reduction in cost of iron tools and the diffusion of the heavy plow.18 Sometimes the difﬁcult work took centuries, but the results were heroic.19 Signiﬁcant amounts of assarting were still taking place in the older lands of Latin Christendom in the thirteenth century, but the movement as a whole was slackening. By.
Scythe. The skeletal remains show eburnation—the transformation of bone into dense, hard ivory-like material on the smooth surfaces—a result, again, of agonizing, yet regular and unavoidable, work routines in medieval rural society.39 In the cemeteries of ﬁshing villages on the northern coasts, one can hardly ﬁnd a skeleton of an adult that does not reveal osteoarthritis of the spinal column due to heavy work routines on land and in cold, windblown open boats.40 One problem with all of these.
Reverend William Hudson concerning the prior of Norwich’s manor of Hindolveston in Norfolk (from RUSTICS 103 which so much of the information in more recent English studies is pillaged)117 allow us to poke around in the problem of conveyancing in much greater detail in order to distinguish between the “normal” land market and the peculiarities of the market during the famine.118 Hudson ﬁrst securely established the mean rates of turnover of tenements (surrenders by old tenants) and then.