The Little Ice Age


Birds iced up and fell from the sky; men and women died of hypothermia; the King of France’s beard froze solid while he slept. Some of the central events of English history turn out to have been linked to the Little Ice Age: in 1588, the Spanish Armada was destroyed by an unprecedented Arctic hurricane, and a factor in the Great Fire of London, in 1666, was the ultra-dry summer that succeeded the previous, bitter winter. Fingerprints of the cold period can be found in surprising places. Why do the most admired violins in the history of music, made by Stradivarius and Guarneri, come from the middle of the Little Ice Age? Blom cites research arguing that trees took longer to mature in the cold, which resulted in a denser wood, with “better sound qualities and more intense resonance.”

 As the modern world attempts to get to grips with global warming it is interesting to note that our forefathers were faced with the opposite problem, a climate that was cooling.  This period was to extend from the fourteenth to eighteenth century with three particularly cold intervals beginning around 1650, 1750 and 1850.

A fascinating review article in ‘The New Yorker’ by John Lancaster on ‘How the Little Ice Age Changed History can be read here.


‘Casanova in Paris: The Shadows of the King’ is freely available here.

27 long form articles on Casanova’s life and times are freely available here.


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