The Little Ice Age and the Hungarian Kingdom? Sources and Research Perspectives

Vadas, András GND

The paper surveys the possibilities and limitations of identifying the impacts of the Little Ice Age (LIA) in the Kingdom of Hungary in the late medieval period. Using a variety of written sources, scholars working on western and other parts of central Europe have documented weather events and environmental processes asso-ciated with the LIA. Despite the scarcity of some of these genres of written evidence – notably narrative sources – for historians working in the Hungarian region, there are indications of similar, if less pronounced, contemporary phenomena in the Kingdom of Hungary, which covered most of the Carpathian Basin in the late medieval period. This paper discusses two case studies, beginning with the problem of the appear-ance of the so-called “Great Famine” of 1310s in this area. Despite the lack of contem-porary domestic narrative accounts of the events, legal evidence and other sources suggest that some aspects of this weather-related crisis had a similar effect on the Hungarian kingdom as on other parts of central Europe (Bohemia, Poland, and the German lands). These sources, however, mention virtually nothing on the extent of the famines – they may have been only local or regional problems. The second part of the paper discusses the research potential into the long-term impacts of the Little Ice Age; while information on the climatic processes is limited, a clear shift in the water table resulted in changes in the suitability of certain altitudes and areas for settlement in the late medieval period.