Abstract

The supposed ramifications of the Little Ice Age, a period of cooling temperatures straddling several centuries in northwestern Europe, reach far beyond meteorology into economic, political, and cultural history. The available annual temperature series from the late Middle Ages to the end of the nineteenth century, however, contain no major breaks, cycles, or trends that could be associated with the existence of a Little Ice Age. Furthermore, the series of resonant images, ranging from frost fairs to contracting glaciers and from dwindling vineyards to disappearing Viking colonies, often adduced as effects of a Little Ice Age, can also be explained without resort to climate change.

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