Hunters in the Snow, by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1565. Kunsthistorisches Museum.
“The winter of 1607–8 was one of the severest in recorded history—and not only in the Netherlands, where the rivers and canals had become icy panoramas on which painters could imagine entire societies,” writes Philipp Blom in Nature’s Mutiny: How the Little Ice Age of the Long Seventeenth Century Transformed the West and Shaped the Present. “In London, the Thames was frozen so solid that a Frost Fair was erected on it, a semipermanent setup consisting of kiosks and wooden huts with taverns and even brothels. Henri IV of France awoke one morning to find his beard iced over; wine froze solid in its barrels, and deep snow covered parts of Spain. Europe was a frosted world.”
In this week’s episode—launching season three of The World in Time—Blom discusses his new book and possible answers to the question posed at the beginning of it: “Do societies change when the climate changes? And if so, how?”
Lewis H. Lapham talks with Philipp Blom, author of Nature’s Mutiny: How the Little Ice Age of the Long Seventeenth Century Transformed the West and Shaped the Present.
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