Endless cold: a seasonal reconstruction of temperature and precipitation in the Burgundian Low Countries during the 15th century based on documentary evidence
- 1Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Bern, 3012 Bern, Switzerland
- 2Institute of History, Department of Economic, Social and Environmental History (WSU), University of Bern, Länggassstrasse 49, 3012 Bern, Switzerland
Abstract. This paper applies the methods of historical climatology to present a climate reconstruction for the area of the Burgundian Low Countries during the 15th century. The results are based on documentary evidence that has been handled very carefully, especially with regard to the distinction between contemporary and non-contemporary sources. Approximately 3000 written records derived from about 100 different sources were examined and converted into seasonal seven-degree indices for temperature and precipitation. For the Late Middle Ages only a few climate reconstructions exist. There are even fewer reconstructions which include spring and autumn temperature or any precipitation information at all. This paper therefore constitutes a useful contribution to the understanding of climate and weather conditions in the less well researched but highly interesting 15th century. The extremely cold winter temperatures during the 1430s and an extremely cold winter in 1407/1408 are striking. Moreover, no other year in this century was as hot and dry as 1473. At the beginning and the end of the 1480s and at the beginning of the 1490s summers were considerably wetter than average.