Weird History

For Centuries, Things Were So Bad In Europe It Was Called The 'General Crisis.' What Happened?

Chances are that when you think of the Ice Age, your mind conjures up images of vast, snow-covered wastelands traversed by cavemen and wooly-mammoths. But, between the 13th and 19th centuries, the Little Ice Age and the General Crisis that subsequently ensued had an arguably far more profound effect on the development of human civilization. The loss of crops, livestock, and human life that resulted from the Little Ice Age are incalculable, but the devastation caused humanity to embrace new ways of life, new foods, and even saw the downfall of several governments. Nothing could have prepared Europe for the icy crucible it was to endure, but by the time it emerged, it was a completely different land.

The effects of this massive climate change event weren’t relegated to Europe. The United States, especially New England, saw a great deal of adverse effects from the cold. Snow-covered summers and population migrations became part of American life for a time. In addition, China saw its own revolution inspired by the adverse effects of a colder world. From canals in the Netherlands to red snow in Italy, the Little Ice Age was hardly little in its global effects.

Contributing to the Little Ice Age was the fact that the sun was going though a "Grand Solar Minimum," an event that did not take place again until February 2020. NASA scientists confirmed, however, that even as the sun endures another period of low solar energy, "there is no impending 'ice age'" to be concerned about.