The Crisis of the 14th Century: 'Teleconnections' between Environmental and Societal Change?

24.02 - 26.02.2016  
Rome, Italy
Contact person:
German Historical Institute

"The Crisis of the 14th Century: 'Teleconnections' between Environmental and Societal Change?"

Conference details

Rome, 24-26 February 2016
German Historical Institute
Organized by Martin Bauch (Deutsches Historisches Institut, Rom) and Gerrit J. Schenk (Technische Universität Darmstadt) in association with the DFG-Project 'Vulnerable Societies' (Universität Heidelberg, HCE)


This conference, at the German Historical Institut in Rome, focuses on the supposed climatic deterioration from 1300 on, discussing its presumed impact on economy and society, and the possibly related epidemic, cultural and political phenomena.

In this context, the meteorological term 'teleconnections' describes the occurrence of causal correlations between (not only geographically) distant areas. Here, we deal with the direct and indirect impact of meteorologically extreme events on medieval societies between 1280 and 1380.

Geographically, the proposed papers will not only focus on the relatively well-explored Northwestern Europe, but also on equally important areas in Central, Southern and East-Central Europe. Additionally, a global perspective will be provided by contributions on the Byzantine and Muslim world as well as on South East Asia.


Wednesday, 24 February
9:30 Martin Baumeister (DHI Rom): Welcome
9:45 Gerrit J. Schenk (TU Darmstadt)/Martin Bauch (DHI Rom): Introduction
10:00 Chair: Francesco Salvestrini; Paolo Nanni (Univ. Firenze): Climate Variability in Italy during the first half of the 14th Century: Historical data and research questions; Martin Bauch (DHI Rom): A truly 'Dantean' anomaly? Bologna and Siena between 1310-21
11:45 Christof Paulus (LMU München): The defense of the crisis, or: An emperor-monk explains his world;
Mihailo Popović (ÖAW, Wien): Did the Little Ice Age have an observable Impact on the Southern Balkan Peninsula in the first half of the 14th Century?
14:30 Chair: Richard C. Hoffman; András Vadas (CEU Budapest): When was the beginning of the Little Ice Age in the Carpathian Basin?; Chantal Camenisch (Univ. Bern): 14th century sources in the area of modern Switzerland and their potential for environmental and climate history
16:30 Rainer Schreg (RGZM, Mainz): Plague and Desertion – a Consequence of Anthropogenic Landscape Change? Archaeological Studies in Southern Germany

Thursday, 25 February 2016
9:30 Chair: Dominik Collet; Thomas Labbé (Univ. Dijon): The Crisis of 1315 between Lyon, Mâcon and Geneva? A Study with Rural Economic Sources; Peter Brown (Durham University): The Extreme Windstorm of AD 1362: Contemporary Perceptions and Responses
11:30 Phil Slavin (Univ. of Kent): Was Malthus Right? Re-Assessing the Role of Demography in Pre-Industrial Famines - the Case of Late-medieval British Isles; Maximilian Schuh (HCE Heidelberg): Narratives of environmental impacts in English sources of the early Fourteenth Century
14:00 Chair: Gerrit J. Schenk; Ulla Kypta (Univ. Basel)/Angela Huang (Copenhagen Univ.): Climatic change and inter-city cooperation; Heli Huhtamaa (Univ. of Eastern Finland/Univ. Bern): Climate and the Great Famine in North-East Europe
18:00 Public evening lecture: Bruce M.S. Campbell (Belfast Univ.): The environmental origins of the Black Death

Friday, 26 February 2016
9:30 Chair: Bruce M.S. Campbell; Ronnie Ellenblum (Hebrew Univ., Jerusalem): The first half of the 14th century in the eastern Mediterranean - a period of wealth?; Tana Li (ANU Canberra): Climatic impacts in Vietnam and Southern China 1280-1360
11:30 Jürg Luterbacher (JLU Gießen): Climatological commentary; Gerrit J. Schenk/Martin Bauch: Concluding remarks