Nature's mutiny How the little Ice Age of the long seventeenth century transformed the West and shaped the present
Book - 2019
"The hints of an impending environmental crisis appeared as early as the 1570s, as winters grew colder and crops diminished. By the turn of the seventeenth century, the temperature had plummeted so drastically that Mediterranean harbors were covered with ice, birds were dropping frozen out of the sky, and enterprising Londoners erected semipermanent frost fairs on a frozen Thames--with bustling kiosks, taverns, and even brothels. Chronicling the dramatic turmoil and the long-lasting consequ...ences of this 'Little Ice Age,' best-selling historian Philipp Blom reveals how a new, radically altered Europe emerged out of environmental cataclysm. Showing how the drastic weather patterns decimated entire harvests across the European continent, [this book] describes how populations fled the starvation and civil unrest in the countryside to bourgeoning urban centers, where the emergence of early capitalistic markets sparked the transformation of European cities. The political and cultural ramifications were no less drastic. Moving from political to intellectual events and to the arts, Blom evokes the era's most exquisite paintings, like Hendrick Avercamp's surreal depiction of an idyllic community on the ice in Winter Landscape, as well as the revolutionary ideas of Enlightenment figures, who, like Montaigne in his Essais, imagined novel worldviews to cope with what seemed like nature's vicious scourge against humankind. Now, as we face a climate crisis of our own, Blom offers exigent ways of understanding this history of the 'Little Ice Age' in light of our own society's fraught relationship with the environment. 'There must be hope,' Blom concludes, but only if we are willing to learn from the past. Ultimately, [this book] offers an essential parable of how societies struggle to survive when violent environmental changes threaten the very fabric of their civilization."--Dust jacket.
New York :
Liveright Publishing Corporation, a division of W.W. Norton & Company
- Item Description
- Originally published in German: Die Welt aus den Angeln (München : Carl Hanser Verlag, 2017).
- Physical Description
- xi, 332 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
- Includes bibliographical references and index.
- Main Author
- PROLOGUE: Winter Landscape. Life without money ; The great experiment
- "GOD HAS ABANDONED US": Europe, 1570-1600. A monk on the run ; God's wind and waves ; Harsh frosts and burning sun ; A time of confusion and a fiery mountain ; Pilgrims and their hunger ; Truth and wine ; Wine in Vienna ; The lights go out ; Witches and spoiled harvests ; The truth in the stars ; Doctor Faustus ; Infinite worlds ; The tower of books
- THE AGE OF IRON. Hortus botanicus ; Revolutionary places ; The city devours its children ; The magic of green cheese ; The great transformation ; A picture of the world ; Idle talk and fabrications ; A warning and a call to repent ; Tears too plentiful to count ; The revolution of the barrel of a musket ; Sell more to strangers ; The state as machine ; A profitable trade ; The curse of silver ; Officer, retired ; The subversive republic of letters ; Germanus incredibilis ; Virtue in the drowning cell ; Leviathan ; An inventory of morality
- ON COMETS AND OTHER CELESTIAL LIGHTS. The madness of crowds ; The Antichrist ; The Messiah and the whore ; The fair on the ice ; The face of change ; The price of change ; Tapissier du roi ; The public sphere and the vices of bees ; The floating reverend
- EPILOGUE: Supplement to The fable of the bees. Songbirds, wood lice, and corals ; Freedom and luxury ; Inherited compromises ; New metaphors ; The theology of the market ; The market and the fortress.
Blom (A Wicked Company?, 2010) provides an intriguing chronicle of the Little Ice Age that gripped Europe during the sixteenth-to-eighteenth centuries. As harbors and rivers froze, wildlife perished, and people suffered, socioeconomic, political, and religious changes were also under way. Drawing on in-depth, well-rounded research and a chronologically and thematically structured narrative, the book leads the reader through those drastic shifts, covering many aspects of life though never definitively determining whether the climate change of the era caused most of its social and cultural alterations or if these upheavals were caused by many factors, including the deep freeze. Blom attempts to provide correlations between this climate crisis and our own escalating struggle with its opposite, global warming, but his analogies fall flat. There is also a lack of introduction to the post-medieval period in which the Little Ice Age began. Still, this is a well-written, informative, and fresh look at a relevant and instructive climate disruption and will appeal to readers interested in European and environmental history as well as our own climate challenges. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.Review by Choice Reviews
This engaging narrative links the Little Ice Age—that period of colder temperatures generally acknowledged as lasting from the late 16th century through the late 18th—with Karl Polanyi's Great Transformation, primarily the coeval rapid European evolution from feudalism to a market economy. While establishing broad causal relations (e.g., declining values of agricultural production caused by harsher winters rippled through an agrarian society), Blom focuses less on detailed arguments than on rich narratives of the experiences of the era, drawn from sources as varied as private diaries, artistic representations, literature, religion, philosophy, and political economics. His three broad sections unfold through artful storytelling, jumping across continents (with a home in Northern Europe but occasional glimpses of the rest of the world) to evoke changes that people lived through and commented on. Still, he sometimes cites hypotheses of more direct connections between climate and global transformation only to draw back, leaving readers dangling. More a vivid introduction than an authoritative environmental history, the author's catholic vision nonetheless should interest readers of popular texts and guide them onward if they share Blom's concerns with contemporary climate changes and their impacts. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Undergraduates and general readers.--G. W. McDonogh, Bryn Mawr CollegeGary Wray McDonoghBryn Mawr College Gary Wray McDonogh Choice Reviews 57:02 October 2019 Copyright 2019 American Library Association.Review by Library Journal Reviews
Historian Blom (Fracture: Life and Culture in the West 1918–1938) examines not the science of climate change, but rather its effect on European culture. Having also worked as a journalist and translator, Blom uses his knowledge to document the hysteria surrounding climactic "acts of God" from the late 16th century through 1816, known as the "year without a summer," as well as the end of the Little Ice Age. The author successfully summarizes many of the societal upheavals of his chosen period, with attention paid to trade, agriculture, and especially religion. However, researchers may seek works that offer more scientific information. Similar books detailing this time period and climactic phenomenon include Brian Fagan's The Little Ice Age and Dagomar Degroot's The Frigid Golden Age. VERDICT Appropriate for readers already fascinated with the history of Europe between 1570 and 1816 as well as enthusiasts of general historical survey works.—Esther Jackson, New York Botanical Garden Copyright 2018 Library Journal.Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews
An epic bout of global cooling sparked the rise of capitalism and rationality, according to this weakly argued environmental history. Journalist Blom (Fracture) probes Europe's response to a prolonged cooling period from 1570 to 1690, an era of harsh winters and chilly, damp summers that saw frequent crop failures, famines, and witch burnings as authorities sought supernatural scapegoats for bad harvests. (On the plus side, London held Frost Fairs on the frozen-over Thames, with ox roasts and bawdy entertainments.) The deep freeze prompted a new genre of winter landscape painting and Shakespeare's line "the winter of our discontent," Blom contends, along with profound economic changes: agricultural innovations; systems of market-oriented land management that raised farm productivity but dispossessed peasants; and a new international grain trade centered in Amsterdam, which became the open-minded, capitalistic nursery of the Enlightenment. He devotes much space to colorful profiles of free-thinking philosophers and scientists, from Giordano Bruno to Baruch Spinoza, who were ostracized, exiled, or executed for questioning religious dogma. Blom's arguments are intriguing but often tenuous, especially when he asserts a causative connection between the weather and particular ideas. While the arguments may not be airtight, this wide-ranging and affectionate portrait of 17th-century Europe has a poetic appeal. Photos. (Feb.) Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly.
The author of Fracture chronicles the 17th-century climate crisis that transformed the social and political fabric of Europe, detailing apocalyptic weather patterns that shaped mass migrations, city growth, early capitalism and the Enlightenment era.Review by Publisher Summary 2
"An illuminating work of environmental history that chronicles the great climate crisis of the 1600s, which transformed the social and political fabric of Europe. Although hints of a crisis appeared as early as the 1570s, the temperature by the end of the sixteenth century plummeted so drastically that Mediterranean harbors were covered with ice, birds literally dropped out of the sky, and "frost fairs" were erected on a frozen Thames--with kiosks, taverns, and even brothels that become a semi-permanent part of the city. Recounting the deep legacy and far-ranging consequences of this "Little Ice Age," acclaimed historian Philipp Blom reveals how the European landscape had suddenly, but ineradicably, changed by the mid-seventeenth century. While apocalyptic weather patterns destroyed entire harvests and incited mass migrations, they gave rise to the growth of European cities, the emergence of early capitalism, and the vigorous stirrings of the Enlightenment. A timely examination of how a society responds to profound and unexpected change, Nature's Mutiny will transform the way we think about climate change in the twenty-first century and beyond."--Review by Publisher Summary 3
Chronicles the seventeenth-century climate crisis that transformed the social and political fabric of Europe, detailing apocalyptic weather patterns that shaped mass migrations, city growth, early capitalism, and the Enlightenment era.Review by Publisher Summary 4
An illuminating work of environmentalhistory that chronicles the great climatecrisis of the 1600s, which transformed thesocial and political fabric of Europe.Review by Publisher Summary 5
Although hints of a crisis appeared as early as the 1570s, the temperature by the end of the sixteenth century plummeted so drastically that Mediterranean harbors were covered with ice, birds literally dropped out of the sky, and “frost fairs” were erected on a frozen Thames—with kiosks, taverns, and even brothels that become a semi-permanent part of the city.Recounting the deep legacy and far-ranging consequences of this “Little Ice Age,” acclaimed historian Philipp Blom reveals how the European landscape had suddenly, but ineradicably, changed by the mid-seventeenth century. While apocalyptic weather patterns destroyed entire harvests and incited mass migrations, they gave rise to the growth of European cities, the emergence of early capitalism, and the vigorous stirrings of the Enlightenment. A timely examination of how a society responds to profound and unexpected change, Nature’s Mutiny will transform the way we think about climate change in the twenty-first century and beyond.