Growing concerns about climate change and the increasing occurrence of ever more devastating natural disasters in some parts of the world and their consequences for human life, not only in the immediately affected regions, but for all of us, have increased our desire to learn more about disaster experiences in the past. How did disaster experiences impact on the development of modern sciences in the early modern era? Why did religion continue to play such an important role in the encounter with disasters, despite the strong trend towards secularization in the modern world? What was the political role of disasters?

Historical Disasters in Context illustrates how past societies coped with a threatening environment, how societies changed in response to disaster experiences, and how disaster experiences were processed and communicated, both locally and globally. Particular emphasis is put on the realms of science, religion, and politics. International case studies demonstrate that while there are huge differences across cultures in the way people and societies responded to disasters, there are also many commonalities and interactions between different cultures that have the potential to alter the ways people prepare for and react to disasters in future. To explain these relationships and highlight their significance is the purpose of this volume.

chapter 1|14 pages


ByAndrea Janku, Gerrit J. Schenk, Franz Mauelshagen

chapter 3|23 pages

Managing Natural Hazards

Environment, Society, and Politics in Tuscany and the Upper Rhine Valley in the Renaissance (ca. 1270–1570)
ByGerrit J. Schenk

chapter 4|21 pages

Acts of God

The Confessionalization of Disaster in Reformation Europe
ByElaine Fulton

chapter 5|19 pages

The Struggle Against the Sea

An Early Modern Coastal Society Between Metaphysical and Physical Attempts to Control Nature
ByMarie Luisa Allemeyer

chapter 6|21 pages

Earthquakes in Early Modern France

From the Old Regime to the Birth of a New Risk
ByGrégory Quenet

chapter 8|13 pages

Forgotten Risks

Mass Movements in the Mountains
ByAndreas Dix

chapter 9|21 pages

Shaping the City

Aleppo's Foreigner Community and the Earthquake of 1822
ByStefan Knost

chapter 10|21 pages

Earthquake versus Fire

The Struggle over Insurance in the Aftermath of the 1906 San Francisco Disaster
ByEleonora Rohland

chapter 11|32 pages

Mediating Foreign Disasters

The Los Angeles Times and International Relief, 1891–1914
ByGordon M. Winder

chapter 12|34 pages

From Natural to National Disaster

The Chinese Famine of 1928–1930
ByAndrea Janku

chapter 13|22 pages

Climate Catastrophism

The History of the Future of Climate Change
ByFranz Mauelshagen