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The Chilling Aftermath of Famine

It has now been seven years since the Great Famine had begun with a volcanic eruption that most people in Europe still have no knowledge of. For some in northern Europe the Great Famine will drag on past 1321. Certainly the aftermath will be chilling. Winters will be colder and longer. The Baltic Sea will be solid ice this winter! They won't see any real recovery for another seven years even though the "torrential rain" part of this environmental disaster has abated. Droughts will become a problem. In the past the manor system of farms attempted to project future yields in grain, meat and milk production but they have stopped making projections. They have no idea what the future holds for them and they know they don't know. [1] [2]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Historians noted that the manors stopped making projections in their log books. That really does tell you something about what they were thinking. The weather was so freakishly chaotic that they couldn't depend on anything for the future. Historians also wonder if this disaster has weakened the population sufficiently for the Black Death to become a pandemic. It's a stretch. Certainly the population is weak now and basic maintenance on buildings has been neglected. The Middle Ages has always been a dirty place. Fleas are everywhere. Clouds of them. The "cleanliness is next to godliness" proverb hasn't come into vogue yet and won't for a very, very long time. [3]

The Despenser War

The Ordinances of 1311 that the Earl of Lancaster had imposed on King Edward II of England are no longer working, if they ever did work, to control (and protect) the King. Despenser the Younger and his father, the Elder Dispenser, have too much influence over King Edward II of England. The Barons prepare their attack on the Despensers when King Edward moves his troops to block them. The Barons convince Queen Isabella to "drop to her knees" before the King to diffuse the war but she turns on the Barons and forces a casus belli situation by placing herself in personal danger. The war is really on now and it won't end well for the Earl of Lancaster, the defacto ruler of England. [4] [5] [6] [7] [8]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Queen Isabella is a pip! She seems to be playing both sides against the middle. On the one hand, I know she hates, hates, hates her husband because he's not giving her any lovin' and making her look the fool for various reasons I won't go into here. Yet she turns on the Barons and gives her husband just the support he needs to rally the troops. King Edward has placed the Royal Seal of the Realm in her hands, in a practical sense making her ruler of the kingdom in his name. This is one dangerous woman and personally very brave. [9] [10]

The "Occupy Wall Street" of the Middle Ages

It's going to be another bad year for the Jews of France. Last year the Shepherds' Crusade wiped out 120 Jewish communities and was probably instigated by King Philip the Tall of France (King Philip V). Now he has accused the Jews of poisoning the wells with a magic concoction that he, himself has swallowed. His subjects are outraged with the subsequent bad news for the Jews. 500 Jews will lock themselves in a tower and kill themselves before it is overrun in reminiscence of the Siege of Masada. Even more will be taken to the Ilse of the Jews (Ile de Juifs) and burned alive. Their ashes will be mixed with those of the Grand Templar. A few will escape to buy their lives. All in all 5,000 men, women and children will die and their property confiscated by the King. [11] [12]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Although the historical record is unreliable on whether the Jews were actually expelled from France, they will be pushed hard. King Philip the Tall didn't like the financial deal that his predecessor had struck with the Jews. It was a 12 year deal and the King wants to welch. The lepers of France are taking it in the shorts too after being accused of conspiring with the Jews. It is all a reaction to the Famine and the need to blame someone for God's wrath... any one but the King, of course. It is the "Occupy Wall Street" of the Middle Ages with the Jews being cast as "the rich, white, Wall Street Bankers" and King Philip as President Obama trying to draw attention away from an extremely bad economic year. It will remain a frightening lesson for everyone. Not just the Jews. [13] [14] [15]

See Also


  1. Jordan, William Chester, The Great Famine: Northern Europe in the Early Fourteenth Century, Princeton University Press, December 15, 1997. pp. 19, 39. (BOOK)
  2. Map of Baltic Sea, Graphic Maps, 2013 [last update]
  3. Oriental rat flea - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  4. Warner, Kathryn (BA, MA with Distinction in medieval history and literature). Edward II: The Despenser War of 1321 (part one), edwardthesecond.blogspot.com, 11 March, 2007. (BLOG)
  5. Jules F. (a writer and researcher from Gloucester, UK) Despenser War. Lady Despenser's Scribery. (BLOG)
  6. Despenser War - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  7. Hugh Despenser the Younger - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  8. Isabella of France(and Queen of England) - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  9. Urban Dictionary: pip, 2014 [last update]
  10. Great Seal of the Realm - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  11. Brown, Elizabeth A. R. Philip V, Charles IV, and the Jews of France: The Alleged Expulsion of 1322. Speculum , Vol. 66, No. 2 (Apr., 1991). Medieval Academy of America. pp. 294-329. (JOURNAL)
  12. Siege of Masada - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  13. Urban Dictionary: welch, 2014 [last update]
  14. Benhorin, Yitzhak. Anti-Semitism tainting Occupy Wall Street protests. Israel News, Ynetnews, 16-Oct-2011.
  15. May, Caroline. Anti-Semitism at 'Occupy Wall Street'?. The Daily Caller. 7-Oct-2011

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