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Great Famine : Northern Europe in the Early Fourteenth Century

Great Famine : Northern Europe in the Early Fourteenth Century - 96 edition

ISBN13: 978-0691058917

Cover of Great Famine : Northern Europe in the Early Fourteenth Century 96 (ISBN 978-0691058917)
ISBN13: 978-0691058917
ISBN10: 0691058911
Cover type: Paperback
Edition/Copyright: 96
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Published: 1996
International: No

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Great Famine : Northern Europe in the Early Fourteenth Century - 96 edition

ISBN13: 978-0691058917

William C. Jordan

ISBN13: 978-0691058917
ISBN10: 0691058911
Cover type: Paperback
Edition/Copyright: 96
Publisher: Princeton University Press

Published: 1996
International: No
Summary

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.

Author Bio

Lordan, William Chester : Princeton University

William Chester Jordan is Professor of History and Director of the Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Historical Studies at Princeton University. Among his books are Louis IX and the Challenge of the Crusade: A Study in Rulership (Princeton), Women and Credit in Pre-Industrial and Develpoing Societies, and The French Monarchy and the Jews from Philip Augustus to the Last Capetians. He is the editor-in-chief of The Middle Ages: An Encyclopedia for Students.

Table of Contents

List of Maps
Acknowledgments
Prologue

Pt. I: A Calamity ''Unheard-of Among Living Men''

1 The Bringers of Famine in 1315: Rain, War, God
2 The Harvest Failures and Animal Murrains


Pt. II: The Economics and Demography of the Famine in Rural Society

3 Prices and Wages
4 The Cost-of-Living Crisis: Lords
5 The Cost-of-Living Crisis: Rustics
6 The Struggle for Survival


Pt. III: Towns and Principalities

7 Urban Demography and Economy
8 Coping in Towns
9 The Policies of Princes


Epilogue
Notes
Bibliography
Index

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