The Great Transition: Climate, disease and society in the late-medieval world

Bruce Campbell

Research output: Book/ReportBook

262 Citations (Scopus)


In the fourteenth century the Old World witnessed a series of profound and abrupt changes in the trajectory of long-established historical trends. Trans-continental networks of exchange fractured and an era of economic contraction and demographic decline dawned from which Latin Christendom would not begin to emerge until its voyages of discovery at the end of the fifteenth century. In a major new study of this 'Great Transition', assessment is made of the contributions of commercial recession, war, climate change,and eruption of the Black Death to a far-reaching reversal of fortunes which spared no part of Eurasia. A wealth of new historical, palaeoecological and biological evidence are synthesised, including estimates of national income, reconstructions of past climates. and genetic analysis of DNA extracted from the teeth of plague victims, to provide a fresh account of the creation, collapse and realignment of western Europe's late-medieval commercial economy.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages488
ISBN (Print)978-0-521-19588-1, 978-0-521-14443-8
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2016

Bibliographical note

The 2013 Ellen McArthur lectures


  • Medieval Climate Anomaly
  • Little Ice Age
  • Black Death
  • Great Northern European Famine
  • commercial revolution
  • commercial recession
  • war
  • tipping point


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