IMC 2017: Sessions

Session 736: Medievalists and the Climate Sciences, I: Climate and Weather in Medieval Documentary Sources

Tuesday 4 July 2017, 14.15-15.45

Sponsor:Abteilung für Wirtschafts-, Sozial- und Umweltgeschichte, Universität Bern
Organiser:Heli Huhtamaa, Abteilung für Wirtschafts-, Sozial- und Umweltgeschichte, Universität Bern / Department of Geographical & Historical Studies, University of Eastern Finland
Moderator/Chair:Maximilian Schuh, Historisches Seminar, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg
Paper 736-aFrom Medieval Chronicles to Climate Indices: The Example of the Burgundian Low Countries in the 15th Century
(Language: English)
Chantal Camenisch, Abteilung für Wirtschafts-, Sozial- und Umweltgeschichte, Universität Bern
Index terms: Archives and Sources, Computing in Medieval Studies, Science
Paper 736-bCold, Colder, Canossa: Severe Conditions or Useful Topoi in Winter, 1076-1077
(Language: English)
Thomas Wozniak, Seminar für Mittelalterliche Geschichte, Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen
Index terms: Ecclesiastical History, Geography and Settlement Studies, Historiography - Medieval, Politics and Diplomacy

Medievalists are increasingly confronted with climate sciences and related interdisciplinary questions concerning how medieval archives can be capitalised upon to improve our understanding of past climatic changes, and how societies have responded to such changes. Such understandings have arguably never been more important than at present in the context of ongoing anthropogenic climate change. Consequently, this double session provides an introduction to medieval climate histories, demonstrating how materials and methods from climate sciences can be applied together with traditional historical methodologies. The first session concentrates on the contemporary observations of weather, climate and climate related crises. The first paper presents how medieval records can be transformed into estimations of past climate variability. The next two papers demonstrate how climate perspectives can provide an invaluable context for understanding and re-evaluating medieval texts. With the case study of Adso’s Miracles of St Mansuetus, the second paper shows that descriptions of famine and drought were not mere topoi but that this hagiography was addressing a contemporary crisis. The last paper discusses the trek of Emperor Henry IV to Canossa (1076/1077) in relation to winter weather described in the contemporary chronicles.