Climates of crisis: apocalypse, nature and rhetoric in the early medieval world

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Abstract

This paper argues that the ways in which people talked about the natural world in the early Middle Ages significantly shaped responses to natural disasters and climate change beyond the effects of crises themselves. Recent developments in palaeoclimatic data, alongside our own experiences of changing climate, have opened up new ways of interrogating how nature affected the medieval past. The relationships between changes in the natural world and human action are not as direct as sometimes portrayed, however, because they are affected by different and sometimes contradictory cultural framings. The paper outlines ways in which people talked about nature in relation to apocalypse, the miraculous, prognostics, and science between circa 500 and circa 900, and then examines how some of those framings affected rhetorical calls to action and Zeitkritik alongside the direct effects natural disasters and climate change had on societies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
JournalViator: Medieval and Renaissance Studies
Volume48
Issue number2
Early online date1 Oct 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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