Waiting for the End of the World? : New Perspectives on Natural Disasters in Medieval Europe book cover
1st Edition

Waiting for the End of the World?
New Perspectives on Natural Disasters in Medieval Europe

ISBN 9780367509484
Published April 29, 2022 by Routledge
466 Pages 11 Color & 120 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Waiting for the End of the World? addresses the archaeological, architectural, historical and geological evidence for natural disasters in the Middle Ages between the 11th and 16th centuries. This volume adopts a fresh interdisciplinary approach to explore the many ways in which environmental hazards affected European populations and, in turn, how medieval communities coped and responded to short- and long-term consequences. Three sections, which focus on geotectonic hazards (Part I), severe storms and hydrological hazards (Part II) and biophysical hazards (Part III), draw together 18 papers of the latest research while additional detail is provided in a catalogue of the 20 most significant disasters to have affected Europe during the period. These include earthquakes, landslides, tsunamis, storms, floods and outbreaks of infectious diseases. Spanning Europe, from the British Isles to Italy and from the Canary Islands to Cyprus, these contributions will be of interest to earth scientists, geographers, historians, sociologists, anthropologists and climatologists, but are also relevant to students and non-specialist readers interested in medieval archaeology and history, as well as those studying human geography and disaster studies. Despite a different set of beliefs relating to the natural world and protection against environmental hazards, the evidence suggests that medieval communities frequently adopted a surprisingly ‘modern’, well-informed and practically minded outlook.

Table of Contents

  1. Researching natural disasters in the later Middle Ages
  2. Peter J. Brown, Paolo Forlin and Christopher M. Gerrard

    Part I: Tectonic Hazards

  3. Rituals of resilience: The interpretative archaeology of post-seismic recovery in medieval Europe
  4. Paolo Forlin

  5. Medieval earthquakes in Italy: Perceptions and reactions
  6. Bruno Figliuolo

  7. Seismic adaptation in the Latin churches of Cyprus
  8. Rory O’Neill

  9. Architectural heritage and ancient earthquakes in Italy: The constraints and potential of archaeoseismological research applied to medieval buildings
  10. Margherita Ganz and Andrea Arrighetti

  11. Medieval tsunamis in the Mediterranean and Atlantic: Towards an archaeological perspective
  12. Christopher M. Gerrard 

  13. Volcanic eruptions and historical landscape on Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Spain
  14. José de León Hernández

  15. ‘The harvest of despair’: Catastrophic fear and the understanding of risk in the shadow of Mount Etna, Italy
  16. Lauren Ware and Lee John Whittington

    Part II: Severe Storms and Hydrological Hazards

  17. Mitigating riverine flood risk in medieval England
  18. Richard Jones and Susan Kilby

  19. Tide and trauma: Tangible and intangible impacts of the storms of 1287 and 1288
  20. Peter J. Brown

  21. Disaster or everyday risk? Perceiving, managing and commemorating floods in medieval central Europe
  22. Christian Rohr

  23. Recovering from catastrophe: How medieval society in England coped with disasters
  24. Christopher Dyer

  25. Fear, matter and miracles: Personal protection and coping with disasters through material culture c1200−1600
  26. Eleanor R. Standley

    Part III: Biophysical Hazards

  27. Digging up the victims of the Black Death: A bioarchaeological perspective on the second plague pandemic
  28. Sacha Kacki

  29. Preserving the ordinary: Social resistance during the second pandemic plagues in the Low Countries
  30. Daniel R. Curtis

  31. Reconstructing the impact of 14th-century demographic disasters on late medieval rural communities in England
  32. Carenza Lewis

  33. Recognising catastrophic cattle-mortality events in England and their repercussions
  34. Louisa J. Gidney

  35. Medieval archaeology and natural disasters: Looking towards the future

Paolo Forlin, Christopher M. Gerrard and Peter J. Brown  

PART IV: Catalogue

19. Catalogue of medieval disasters

Peter J. Brown, Paolo Forlin and Christopher M. Gerrard


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Christopher M. Gerrard is a Professor in the Department of Archaeology, Durham University, UK.

Paolo Forlin is a Research Associate in the Department of Archaeology, Durham University, UK.

Peter J. Brown recently completed his PhD in the Department of Archaeology, Durham University, UK.