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Publication . Master thesis . 2016

The impact of the Little Ice Age on Danish warfare in the 17th century

Nielsen, Caspar Le Fevre;
Open Access
Published: 01 Jan 2016
Country: Denmark
The goal of this thesis is to analyze in what way the Little Ice Age, a colder climatic period between around 1300-1850, affected the development of the modern Danish state. This is though too large a scope for a single thesis and the wars between 1550-1750 have been chosen as an area of focus. These wars changed the geopolitical position of Denmark in the Nordic area, from a strong nation to a minor player. The worst outcome came, as Denmark lost all processions east of the Sound Strait to its rival Sweden in 1658, of which Bornholm was the only land area to return. These wars correlate to the Maunder Minimum, a period from 1645-1715, which was the coldest part of the Little Ice Age. In order to understand if there is a causation following this correlation, the main focus of the thesis will be the structural integrity of the Danish economy in pre-war and wartime periods. Two different economic spheres will be analyzed, the first being the Sound Toll income and the second the agricultural output. The Sound Toll do not seem to have a strong correlation to the cooling climate, and it does not seem that the colder winters decreased the income from the Toll. However, the agricultural output does seem to have a moderate correlation to the harsher winters of the Maunder Minimum, with a lower total output, thereby decreasing the ability of the State to increase taxation during wartime. It is also possible that the harsher winters increased the susceptibility of the society to epidemics. This master’s thesis argues that there is a possible connection between the changing climate and warfare, especially in the period before 1660. After the change in government, from an aristocratic monarchy to an absolutist monarchy in 1660, the following wars were more manageable for the State, possibly due to better harvests.

krig, war, history, lille istid, maunder minimum, little ice age, environmental history

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