Medieval Round Table 2 May: Christine Grundy – Climate Change and the Peace of God

Christine Grundy, Australian National University

Climate Change and the Peace of God

“Some time later a famine began to ravage the whole earth, and death threatened almost the whole human race.” So began the writings of Rudolfus Glaber, a witness to terrible events which occurred in France around the 1030s.  Glaber told us that the Peace of God ceremony occurred as a direct result of a catastrophic famine caused by a climatic event.  What he could not have known was that the rains he described were part of a change in climatic conditions that commenced about fifty years earlier and were to be sustained for several hundred years.  That period, marked by global warming, was to become known as the Medieval Climate Anomaly.

As far as I am aware, Glaber alone stated that the changing climate created the need for the Peace of God ceremony.  And yet, if one charts the commencement of the Medieval Climate Anomaly and the Peace of God ceremony one finds that they commence around the same time.  Glaber did not believe that this was a coincidence.  This thesis will examine his belief in more detail.  The thesis will draw upon scientific, social and historical disciplines as well as primary sources.

This presentation is an early trial of a Thesis Review Presentation.  I will take the group through the frameworks that Environmental Historians have offered for similar events across the centuries and examine the evidence that the framework applies in this context as well.  I ask the members of the Medieval Round Table for their critical feedback on the premise for the investigation and the steps I intend to undertake in undertaking this research.

The Medieval Round Table meets again next Monday, 2 May, at 6:15 with a paper by Christine Grundy from ANU: Climate Change and the Peace of God.  We’ll again be meeting via Zoom.  To receive the Zoom link for the meeting please email by this Saturday, 30 April; the link will then be emailed to you on Sunday.