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Weather irregularities in 1693

 

There are no more seasons, we often hear, weather is irregular, the heat wave is threatening, the frogs are disoriented… But these complaints aren’t only heard today…

The weather irregularities of the 1690s led to their own procession of unhappiness…

In the spring of 1692, Louis XIV commands in person the siege of Namur.  Rain falls for three weeks nonstop.

Madame de Maintenon declares: “It’s been pouring down since we’ve been here; the city [Dinant] is filled with mud to the point where you can’t get out of it.”

From the autumn of 1691 on, France undergoes weather irregularities: 15 days of frost in November 1691, 19 days in December, 27 days in January 1692, 18 days in February.  Grains sprout poorly and late.  The harvests are catastrophic.

The spring of 1693 is humid and cold.  The church orders processions.  Wheat germinates in August while the heat has become intense.  September sees a return of the rains, which lead to rotting wheat and disastrous harvests.

In October of the same year, ovens in the courtyard of the Louvre were constructed to bake bread sold at two sous a pound.

The winter of 93-94 is very cold and dry.  Harvests are mediocre once again.  Numerous deaths are caused by hunger and epidemics (typhoid, scurvy, ergot poisoning).

These weather inconsistencies cause 2,836,000 deaths in two years, representing 1.3 million more deaths than in the course of two average years.

The crisis of 1693-94 would have caused almost as many victims as World War I but in 2 years in place of 4 years, in a country with half the population.  It’s the biggest demographic catastrophe in French history.

This information was taken from an article by Joel Cornette, which appeared in the magazine HISTOIRE No. 257 of September 2001 and is available for consultation in the Seneffe library.