Apocalyptic riders in the borderlands: dealing with locust invasions, diseases and war in late 15th and 16h century Eastern Austria

Rohr, Christian (1 July 2017). Apocalyptic riders in the borderlands: dealing with locust invasions, diseases and war in late 15th and 16h century Eastern Austria (Unpublished). In: 9th ESEH Conference “Natures in between. Environments in areas of contact among states, economic systems, cultures and religions”. Zagreb. 28.06.2017-02.07.2017.

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The late 15th and the 16th century constitute a very unquiet period for the people living in the Eastern and Southern Hapsburg borderlands, i.e. in the historical Duchies of (Lower) Austria, Styria and Carinthia in present-day Austria, and in Carniola in modern Slovenia. The inhabitants faced incursions of Ottoman troops, locust invasions destroying their fields, diseases, and extreme weather, and finally the Reformation Period made the people insecure whether they stood on the “right” side to gain heaven after life. This paper aims to look on the coincidence of environmental, political and cultural factors causing this scenario of crisis in an exposed borderline region, focusing on the 1470s and the 1540s, when extremely hot and dry years (1473 and 1540 – presumably the hottest ones in the second millennium) were followed by locust plagues which lasted for several years. Together with the wars and diseases of that time people perceived those substantial threats as the arrival of the apocalyptic riders in the Book of Revelation: hunger, war, and disease, all together leading to death. This interpretation can be proved both by written and pictorial documentary evidence. Several examples of the so-called “Gottesplagenbilder” (depictions of divine plagues), e.g. from Graz (around 1480/1485) and Waidhofen an der Ybbs (around 1550) have survived and testify this pattern of interpretation of environmentally and politically induced disasters. It will be shown that the borderland situation, both in a political and geographical sense, had been a main trigger for the described developments.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

Division/Institute:

06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of History and Archaeology > Institute of History
06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of History and Archaeology > Institute of History > Economic, Social and Environmental History

UniBE Contributor:

Rohr, Christian

Subjects:

900 History
900 History > 940 History of Europe

Language:

English

Submitter:

Christian Rohr

Date Deposited:

08 Nov 2017 13:32

Last Modified:

08 Nov 2017 13:32

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/101839

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