Droughts as a Trigger of Subsequent Locust Invasions? The Cases of the 1470s and 1540s

Rohr, Christian (2 June 2017). Droughts as a Trigger of Subsequent Locust Invasions? The Cases of the 1470s and 1540s (Unpublished). In: Adaptation and Resilience to Droughts: Historical Perspectives in Europe and beyond. Strasbourg. 01.06.2017-02.06.2017.

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Several outbreaks of locust invasions have hit Central Europe during the Late Middle Ages and in Early Modern Times. Due to their perception and interpretation as a divine punishment and a portent of the Last Judgement they are well documented in contemporary annals and chronicles as well as by frescoes and other pictorial sources. However, the reasons why locusts occasionally change from a solitarian way of life to a gregarian one by building swarms of billions of animals is still under dispute (see e.g. Anstey et al. 2009). A recent article by Brázdil et al. (2014) has asked, whether past locust outbreaks in the Czech Lands indicate specific climatic patterns or not. The authors concluded that compared with seasonal temperature and precipitation patterns in Central Europe during the years in which the locust outbreaks took place there seem to be no particular climatic features. However, it will be argued in this presentation that rather a preceding year with a severe drought like in 1473 and in 1540 might have triggered the outbreak of locust invasions than the climatic situation in the subsequent years of the outbreaks themselves. The paper will include a re-analysis of the most important documentary sources on the locust invasions to Central Europe, in particular to the Eastern Alpine countries. It will be asked if the perception of those outbreaks as disasters had also been influenced by the food shortage during the drought years of 1473 and 1540. Finally, also other locust outbreaks from the Late Middle Ages up to the 20th century, both in Central Europe and in the Mediterranean region, will be considered for verifying or not the principle assumption of this paper. A paper by Chantal Camenisch regarding the drought of 1473 and a synthesis paper on several droughts during the fifteenth and the sixteenth century by Christian Pfister are linked to this presentation.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

Division/Institute:

06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of History and Archaeology > Institute of History
10 Strategic Research Centers > Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (OCCR)
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 13:39

Last Modified:

08 Nov 2017 13:39

Uncontrolled Keywords:

historical climatology, drought, vulnerability, locust invasions, disaster perception

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/101841

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