Session Title

The Seven-Hundredth Anniversary of the Great European Famine, 1315-2015

Sponsoring Organization(s)

Medieval Association for Rural Studies (MARS)

Organizer Name

Philip Slavin

Organizer Affiliation

Univ. of Kent

Presider Name

William Chester Jordan

Presider Affiliation

Princeton Univ.

Paper Title 1

The Great European Famine, 1315-21: Malthusian Trap or Ecological Crisis?

Presenter 1 Name

Philip Slavin

Presenter 1 Affiliation

Univ. of Kent

Paper Title 2

The Other Famine: Climate Change in the Fourteenth-Century Mediterranean

Presenter 2 Name

Marie A. Kelleher

Presenter 2 Affiliation

California State Univ.-Long Beach

Paper Title 3

Climate and Famine in Denmark 1311-1319

Presenter 3 Name

Nils Hybel

Presenter 3 Affiliation

Københavns Univ.

Paper Title 4

Famine, City Politics, and Communication in Fourteenth-Century Valencia

Presenter 4 Name

Adam Franklin-Lyons

Presenter 4 Affiliation

Marlboro College

Start Date

14-5-2015 10:00 AM

Session Location

Fetzer 1010

Description

The third proposed session is dealing with the seven-hundredth anniversary of the perhaps single harshest subsistence crisis in European history: the Great Famine of 1315-7. Initially caused by the incessant torrential rain, but intensified a great deal by the combination of institutional failures and human greed, the Great Famine saw three back-to-back harvest failures, which led to widespread starvation, suffering and famine-related diseases, killing between 10-15 per cent of north Europe's population. To appreciate the Great Famine, however, it is essentially important to place it within a wider context of the 14th century crisis --- and this is one aim of the proposed session.

Another aim, serving the intellectual justification for the session, is to place the Great Famine in the wider context of historical famines and address the relevance of historical science in studying and understanding 'famine' as a phenomenon. Despite several revolutions in agriculture and more intensive farming than ever before, famine and its attendant evils – disease, chronic malnutrition, civil unrest – remain a threat to all but the wealthiest countries; Even in the ‘first world’, the specter of food shortage has only been dispelled in the last century. The international community frequently debates food aid to starving nations, particularly those in Sub-Saharan Africa. In our own national politics, food supply issues, from environmental degradation to genetically modified foods, are constant topics of argument. While some writers herald modern agricultural achievement as the long-term solution to the pressures of the global food-supply, others continue to warn of the possibility or even inevitability of greater crises to come.

Philip Slavin

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May 14th, 10:00 AM

The Seven-Hundredth Anniversary of the Great European Famine, 1315-2015

Fetzer 1010

The third proposed session is dealing with the seven-hundredth anniversary of the perhaps single harshest subsistence crisis in European history: the Great Famine of 1315-7. Initially caused by the incessant torrential rain, but intensified a great deal by the combination of institutional failures and human greed, the Great Famine saw three back-to-back harvest failures, which led to widespread starvation, suffering and famine-related diseases, killing between 10-15 per cent of north Europe's population. To appreciate the Great Famine, however, it is essentially important to place it within a wider context of the 14th century crisis --- and this is one aim of the proposed session.

Another aim, serving the intellectual justification for the session, is to place the Great Famine in the wider context of historical famines and address the relevance of historical science in studying and understanding 'famine' as a phenomenon. Despite several revolutions in agriculture and more intensive farming than ever before, famine and its attendant evils – disease, chronic malnutrition, civil unrest – remain a threat to all but the wealthiest countries; Even in the ‘first world’, the specter of food shortage has only been dispelled in the last century. The international community frequently debates food aid to starving nations, particularly those in Sub-Saharan Africa. In our own national politics, food supply issues, from environmental degradation to genetically modified foods, are constant topics of argument. While some writers herald modern agricultural achievement as the long-term solution to the pressures of the global food-supply, others continue to warn of the possibility or even inevitability of greater crises to come.

Philip Slavin