[Glorantha]Disasters of mythic proportion

From: David Dunham <david_at_a-sharp.com>
Date: Sat, 21 Aug 2004 13:22:57 -0700

I just read Brian Fagan's _The Little Ice Age_,=20

which talks about climate and its effect (mostly=20
on Europe). Some of the descriptions reminded me=20
of events in Glorantha -- sometimes perhaps even=20
exceeding them.

Here are some examples:

In 1315, "Only occasionally did a watery sun=20 break through the clouds, before the rain started=20 again. 'Throughout nearly all of May, July, and=20 August, the rains did not cease,' complained one=20 writer. =8A In central Europe, floods swept away=20

entire villages, drowning hundreds at a time. =8A=20
the rains of 1315 stopped military campaigning in=20
its tracks. =8A Wagons bogged down in the mire so=20
deeply that even seven horses could not move=20 them. The infantry stood knee-deep in boggy=20 field=8A As much as half the arable land vanished=20 in some places =8A such grain as could be harvested=20 was soft and had to be dried before it could be=20 ground into flour."

"The year 1316 was the worst for cereal crops=20
throughout the entire Middle Ages. In many=20 places, the crops simply did not ripen. Where=20 wheat could be harvested, the plants were=20 stunted, the yields pitiful. Throughout the=20 thirteenth century, the Winchester manors in=20 southern England had enjoyed more or less=20 constant yields of about three bushels for every=20 one sown. The 1316 crop was only 55.9 percent of=20 normal, the lowest between 1271 and 1410. The=20

estate's income accounts record 'from lamb's wool=20
nothing this year, because they were not shorn on=20
account of the great inconsistency of the weather=20
in the summer.' 'From the sale of hay in the=20 meadow, nothing on account of the abundance of=20 rain in the summer.' The Bishop of Winchester's=20 mill made no profit 'because the mill did not=20 grind for half the year on account of the flood.'=20 Not only wheat but barley, beans, oats, and peas=20 yielded crops that were 15 to 20 percent lower=20 than normal. =8A the bitterly cold winter of=20 1317/18 used up the already depleted fodder=20 stocks."

"At least 100,000 people died along the Dutch and=20
German coasts in the four fierce storm surges in=20 about 1200, 1212-19, 1287, and 1362, in=20 long-forgotten disasters that rivaled the worst=20 in modern-day Bangladesh. =8A The greatest=20 fourteenth-century storm, that of January 1362,=20 went down in history as the Grote Mandrenke, the=20
"Great Drowning of Men. =8A A contemporary=20
chronicler reported that sixty parishes in the=20 Danish diocese of Slesvig were 'swallowed by the=20 salt sea.' At least 25,000 people perished in=20 this disaster, maybe many more."

"On August 19, 1413, a great southerly storm at=20
extremely low tide buried the small town of=20 =46orvie, near Aberdeen in norther Scotland, under=20 a thirty-meter sand dune. More than 100,000=20 people are said to have died in the great storms=20 of 1421 and 1446."

"In 1599/1600, the Alpine glaciers pushed=20
downslope more than ever before or since. In=20 Chamonix alone, 'the glaciers of the Arve and=20 other rivers ruined and spoiled one hundred and=20 ninety-five journaux of land in divers parts.' =8A=20 'The village of Le Bois was left uninhabited=20 because of the glaciers.' If contemporary=20 accounts are to be relied on, the ice advanced=20 daily."

"Huanyaputina ash played havoc with the global=20
climate. The summer of 1601 was =8A among the=20 coldest of the past 1,600 years in Scandinavia,=20 where the sun was dimmed by constant haze. Summer=20 sunlight was so dim in Iceland that there were no=20 shadows. In central Europe, sun and moon were=20 'reddish, faint, and lacked brilliance. =8A In=20 China, the sun was red and dim, with large=20 sunspots."

"Between 1627 and 1633, seven cold and wet=20
summers led to aggressive advances along ice=20 fronts throughout the Alps, causing large rock=20 falls and floods, and destroying trees,=20 farmlands, and bridges. Between 1628 and 1630,=20 Chamonix lost a third of its lands through=20 avalanches, snow, glaciers, and flooding, and the=20 remaining hectares were under constant threat. In=20 1642, the Des Bois glacier advanced 'over a=20 musket shot every day, even in the month of=20 August.'" The people begged for tax relief: "Now=20 they obtained but one harvest in three, and even=20 then the grain rotted after harvesting."

"When the Des Bois glacier threatened to block=20
the Arve River, the inhabitants of Chamonix" sent=20 a delegation to the Bishop of Geneva. "In early=20 June 1644, the bishop himself led a procession of=20 about three hundred people to the place where the=20 'great and horrible glacier' threatened the=20 village of Les Bois. the prelate blessed the=20 menacing ice sheet, then repeated the ritual at=20 another glacier =8A Fortunately, the blessings=20 worked. The glaciers slowly retreated until 1663,=20 but they left the land so scarred and barren that=20 nothing would grow."

"After 1680 the glaciers retreated somewhat." The=20
Bishop was invited back "to witness how the=20 threatening ice had withdrawn some eighty paces.=20 The old man duly visited the village and repeated=20 his blessing."

"In 1653, the alarmed villagers of Naterser sent=20
a deputation to the Jesuit community at Siders=8A"=20 At the glacier front, the Jesuits celebrated mass=20 and preached a sermon at the glacier: 'The most=20 important exorcisms were used.' They sprinkled=20 the terminus with holy water and set up an effigy=20 of Saint Ignatius nearby. 'It looked like an=20 image of Jupiter, ordering an armistice not to=20 his routed troops, but to the hungry glacier=20 itself.' The Jesuit disputation worked. We are=20 told that Saint Ignatius 'caused the glacier to=20 be still.'"

"In 1694, the Kinnaird family under the laird=20
Alexander owned the Barony of Culbin and its=20 valuable 1,400-hectare estate. =8A around November=20 1 or 2, a savage north or northwesterly gale=20 screamed in off the North Sea. For thirty hours=20 or more, storm winds and huge waves tore at the=20 coastal dunes at strengths estimated at 50 to 60=20 knots, maybe much higher. The wind rushed through=20 gaps in the dunes, blowing huge clouds of dust=20 and sand that felt like hail. =8A 'In terrible=20 gusts the wind carried the sand among the=20

dwelling-houses of the people=8A' Some villagers=20
had to break out through the rear walls of their=20
houses. They grabbed a few possessions and freed=20
their cattle from the advancing dunes, then fled=20
through the wind and rain to higher ground, only=20
to find themselves trapped by rising waters of=20 the now-blocked river. The resulting flood swept=20 away the village of Findhorn as the river cut a=20 new course to the sea. Fortunately, the=20 inhabitants escaped in time. The next day,=20 nothing could be seen of the houses and fields of=20 the Culbin estate. Sixteen fields and their=20 farmland, extending over twenty and thirty square=20 kilometers, were buried under thirty meters of=20 loose sand."

"In the end, a tenth of Louis XIV's subjects=20
perished from famine and its attendant epidemics=20 in 1693/94."


David Dunham
Glorantha/HQ/RQ page: http://www.pensee.com/dunham/glorantha.html
Imagination is more important than knowledge. -- Albert Einstein


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Received on Sun 22 Aug 2004 - 07:00:30 EEST

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