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The Third Horseman
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The Third Horseman

Climate Change and the Great Famine of the 14th Century

By William Rosen
Narrated by William Hughes / 10 hours 44 minutes

How a seven-yearcycle of rain, cold, disease, and warfare created the worst famine in Europeanhistory

In May 1315 it started to rain. It didn’t stop anywhere innorth Europe until August. Next came the four coldest winters in a millennium.Two separate animal epidemics killed nearly 80 percent of northern Europe’slivestock. Wars between Scotland and England, France and Flanders, and tworival claimants to the Holy Roman Empire destroyed all remaining farmland.After seven years, the combination of lost harvests, warfare, and pestilencewould claim six million lives—one eighth of Europe’s total population.

William Rosen draws on a wide array of disciplines, frommilitary history to feudal law to agricultural economics and climatology, totrace the succession of traumas that caused the Great Famine. With dramatic appearancesby Scotland’s William Wallace, the luckless Edward II, and his treacherousQueen Isabella, history’s best-documented episode of catastrophic climatechange comes alive, with powerful implications for future calamities.

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