Revolutions, droughts, famines, invasions, wars, regicides, government collapses – the calamities of the mid-seventeenth century were unprecedented in both frequency and extent. The effects of what historians call the "General Crisis" extended from England to Japan, from the Russian Empire to sub-Saharan Africa. The Americas, too, did not escape the turbulence of the time. In this meticulously researched volume, Global Crisis: War, Climate Change and Catastrophe in the Seventeenth Century, master historian Geoffrey Parker presents the firsthand testimony of men and women who saw and suffered from the sequence of political, economic, and social crises between 1618 to the late 1680s. Parker also deploys the scientific evidence of climate change during this period.
His discoveries revise entirely our understanding of the General Crisis: changes in prevailing weather patterns, especially longer winters and cooler and wetter summers, disrupted growing seasons and destroyed harvests. This in turn brought hunger, malnutrition, and disease; and as material conditions worsened, wars, rebellions, and revolutions rocked the world. The fatal synergy caused by the crisis killed perhaps one-third of the world's human population. Parker's demonstration of the link between climate change, war, and catastrophe 350 years ago stands as an extraordinary historical achievement. And the implications of Global Crisis: War, Climate Change and Catastrophe in the Seventeenth Century are equally important: are we adequately prepared – or even preparing – for the catastrophes that climate change brings?
Winner of the 2012 Heineken Prize for History, Geoffrey Parker is a renowned British historian who taught at the University of St Andrews, the University of Illinois, the University of British Columbia and Yale University before becoming Andreas Dorpalen Professor of History at The Ohio State University. He is also a Fellow of the British Academy, the Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Spanish-American Academy of Arts and Sciences (Cadiz), and the Royal Academy of History (Madrid). His many books include The Grand Strategy of Philip II, published by Yale in 1998 (winner of the Samuel Eliot Morison Prize) and The Military Revolution (winner of the best book prize of the American Military Institute and the Society for the History of Technology), as well as seminal works on global military history and early modern Europe.