Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Cold Weather

Okay, it wasn't that bad
Much of the United States is experiencing lower-than-usual temperatures recently—and the forecast is that there is more to come. The people reading this blog have (I hope) ready access to sources of heat and insulated housing, warm clothing and hot drinks, weather-proof shoes and knit hats. But what of folk centuries ago? How much can we know of the weather of past centuries?

A Chronological Listing of Early Weather Events by James A. Marusek (2010) compiles several sources of weather data from numerous historical records. The detail is praiseworthy. Just a sample from the time of and immediately following the Norman Invasion makes me glad I was not living through those years in Europe.
  • 1066 A.D. In England, there was a great frost.
  • Also refer to the section 1064 A.D. – 1071 A.D. for information on the drought and famine in Egypt during that timeframe.
  • Winter of 1067/1068 A.D. The winter in Europe in the year 1067 was long and intensely cold and many people perished by cold and hunger.
  • In 1067, the vine and fruit trees in France were killed [by the extreme cold].
  • During 1067-68, in France, the winter between St. Brice to St. Gregory (from 13 November 1067 until 12 March 1068) was extremely severe. The vineyards and forest trees bore no fruit. The mishap brought forth by this and the previous years infertility produced in England such a famine, that the unfortunates were forced to eat dog and horse meat, yes, even to eat human flesh.
  • In France, a terrible winter began on 13 November 1067 and lasted until 12 March 1068.
  • In England in 1068, there was famine and plague after a severe winter.
  • 1069 A.D. The rivers froze in the north of Germany.
  • In the year 1069 in Germany, the winter was harsh and long. There was a shortage of wine and fruit because of the extreme cold. The rivers were frozen over. King Henry IV came to the countries of the Saxons and caused such carnage that the area was depopulated.
  • In 1069, the Normans desolated England, and in the following year famine spread all over England, “so that man, driven by hungar, ate human, dog and horse flesh;’ some to sustain a miserable life sold themselves for slaves.
  • [In England in 1069, there was a great dearth. The peasants of the north, unable any longer to secure dogs and horses to appease their hunger, sold themselves into slavery in order to be fed by their masters. All the land between Durham and York were laid waste, without inhabitants or people to till the soil for nine years. Some of the destitute resorted to cannibalism. A factor that contributed to this hardship was the taxes exacted by the conquerors. Peasants became discouraged, realizing that the fruits of their labor were taken from them as fast as they were earned.]

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