The Year Without a Summer (3/5)

List item

The 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora is the most powerful volcanic eruption recorded in human history, almost instantly causing the deaths of around 10,000 people. You might be wondering why it is placed in this list – after all, Mount Tambora is in Indonesia, which is quite the distance from the British Isles! However, what is particularly striking about this eruption, and the reason that it has a place on this list, is the fact that it had a worldwide impact. The ash expunged from the volcano as a result of the eruption spread across the entire world, significantly lowering global temperatures in a period of brief, but intense, climate change. This became known as the ‘Year Without a Summer’ in Britain as, indeed, the year following was that of a harsh, seemingly never-ending winter in which crops perished and many thousands died. Basic food supplies became a scarce commodity, causing a sharp increase in prices that many of the working population could not afford, and those who were ordinarily able to grow their own had of course been unable to due to the recent change in climate. This led to a major famine across the British Isles. Many tens of thousands across England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland died directly to starvation. To further complicate matters, major typhus epidemics precipitated by the large-scale crop failure and the famine across the Isles caused the deaths of a further 60,000 people.

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The Sweating Sickness (2/5)

The North Sea flood of 1953 (4/5)