When discussing the issues surrounding current global warming, is not uncommon to hear people bring up the so-called “Medieval Warm Period.” Such conversations are littered with debates about what the Medieval Warm Period actually was, how it impacted the world of the Middle Ages, and what an accurate comprehension of it could mean for our future. With new data gathered only in recent years, climatologists are able to more accurately reconstruct past climates. For historians, this relatively new climate data may provide vital contributions to our explanations and understanding of the past.
The Medieval Warm Period had many effects on European history. To name a few examples, climate change played a significant role in the exploration and settlement of the Norse in Greenland, Iceland, and Canada; caused significant changes in medieval farming and husbandry; and allowed the English to compete with the French in producing high quality wine. Climate change also shaped the general health of the medieval population by creating crop surpluses and famines, determining diet and nutrition, and contributing to the spread of many diseases including the infamous bubonic plague.
Amy Moenning, ’08 Evergreen, CO
Majors: History, Medieval and Early Modern Studies
Sponsor: Howard Miller