The Ellen McArthur Lectures 2013

Professor Bruce Campbell (Queen's University Belfast)
"The Great Transition: Climate, Disease and Society in the 13th and 14th Centuries"

4, 6, 11, and 13 February 2013
Mill Lane Lecture Rooms, 8 Mill Lane, Cambridge

Across the Old World the late-thirteenth and fourteenth centuries witnessed profound and sometimes abrupt changes in the trajectory of established historical trends, as the long era of economic efflorescence which had characterised Latin Christendom and the agrarian empires of eastern and south-eastern Asia since at least the late eleventh century finally drew to an end. Eventually, a set of new socio-economic equilibriums emerged. A combination of environmental and human processes were involved in this 'Great Transition', whose full ecological and geographical dimensions are only now coming to light thanks to detailed scientific research into past climates, application of aDNA analysis to the diagnosis of plague and decoding of the Yersinia pestis genome, and emergence of comparative global history as a significant field of scholarly enquiry. Read more »


Depending on the speed of your internet connection, you may wish to download these items to your computer before viewing. This option is available by clicking the 'Available Formats' tab under the video.


Lecture 1 (Monday 4th February)
The 14th century as tipping point: From one socio-ecological status quo to another


Lecture 2 (Wednesday 6th February)
The enabling environment: The Medieval Solar Maximum and Latin Christendom's high-medieval efflorescence


Lecture 3 (Monday 11th February)
A precarious balance: Mounting economic vulnerability in an era of increasing climatic instability


Lecture 4 (Wednesday 13th February)
Disease intervenes: The Black Death and the 'Great Transition' to an alternative socio-ecological equilibrium