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Italian Famines: An overview (ca. 1250-1810)

Guido Alfani, Luca Mocarelli () and Donatella Strangio

No 84, Working Papers from "Carlo F. Dondena" Centre for Research on Social Dynamics (DONDENA), Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi

Abstract: This article provides a general chronology of Italian famines, incorporating earlier chronologies as well as recent research on preindustrial mortality crises and covering the whole period from circa 1250 to 1810. Hypotheses about the occurrence of famines are tested using the largest-existing database of time series of burials, covering northern Italy and part of central Italy, as well as a database of time series of wheat prices covering the whole of the Peninsula. The role played by food provisioning institutions is briefly detailed and a summary discussion of the causative factors of famines is provided. We argue that the majority of the most severe medieval and early modern famines happen when a situation of high demographic pressure on the available resources couples with periods of meteorological instability of the kind unfavorable to wheat crops, and the crisis is so widespread that institutions are unable to provide effective remedies.

Keywords: Famines; famines chronology; hunger; mortality crises; preindustrial period; middle ages; early modern period; history; historical demography; malthusian traps; agrarian change; food provisioning; food security (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 32 pages
Date: 2015-12
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