Publications of Rácz, L.
Environmental History in Hungary
The article examines the state of environmental history in Hungary, on the eve of the first World Congress for Environmental History in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2009. The author discusses the success of the European Society for Environmental History (ESEH) in developing the field of environmental history in Hungary, including its shortcomings and opportunities. An overview of the stabilization of an institutional background that forms the basis for environmental history research in Hungary, including the the "History of Nature" book series at the Historical Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and the lack of financing research is discussed.
Az 1830-as évek éghajlati-környezeti válsága Magyarországon
The main research questions of this study were to find out if there were a huge number of weather anomalies the 1830s and whether these extreme anomalies influenced the Hungarian nobility’s stance on social reform. The research was based on documentary sources and time series of instrumental observation in Buda. The research results verified that the decade of the 1830s was one of the most extreme periods of modern Hungarian environmental history. For the eleven years analysed, the average of monthly anomalies per year was nearly half a year (5.7 months). The gravity centre of climate change was 1833 and 1834. In 1833 alone there were seven months when weather anomalies occurred, moreover, there were five cases of extreme monthly averages of temperature and precipitation as well. Similarly, in 1834 there were seven extreme months; however, double anomalies occurred in only three cases. The structural climate analysis of the 1830s reveals a rather cold and dry climate profile. It is inferred that the high frequency of climate anomalies and series of ecological and economic conflicts positively influenced the attitudes of Hungarian nobility towards social reform.
Mi a történeti földrajz és kik a történeti földrajzosok? Kerekasztal-beszélgetés a történeti földrajzról
What is Historical Geography and Who Are the Historical Geographers?
Report on Environmental History Research in Hungary
The article focuses on steps that were taken by the European Society for Environmental History (ESEH) to promote environmental history research in Hungary. The ESEH organized three conferences in 2006 for different groups of environmental experts and researchers. Two conferences were held in Budapest, Hungary. The ESEH is extending its boundaries and institutionalized environmental history research. The ESEH is planning to launch an environmental history book in 2007 with the help of Ferenc Glatz, director of the Historical Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
Environmental History in Europe from 1994 to 2004 : Enthusiasm and Consolidation
This review presents European scholarship in environmental history by highlighting a limited number of works which have proved significant in their respective countries. The decade from 1994-2004 saw the development of a new scholarly network for environmental history in Europe. Members of this network have contributed to an overview about important work done in their region during the last ten years. A series of case studies on Great Britain, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, the Netherlands and Belgium, France, Italy, Spain and Czechia and Slovakia are ordered. The emerging picture shows the diversity of approaches and themes as well as the different degrees of institutional backing and involvement into teaching curricula. The introduction discusses the language challenges in Europe and some common traits in the development are sketched in the conclusions.
Book review : Tér és történelem
This article reviews the book "Tér és történelem" edited by Gyula Benda and András Szekeres.
Monthly mean pressure reconstruction for the Late Maunder Minimum period (AD 1675-1715)
The Late Maunder Minimum(LMM; 1675-1715) delineates a period with marked climate variability within the Little Ice Age in Europe. Gridded monthly mean surface pressure fields were reconstructed for this period for the eastern North Atlantic-European region (25 degrees W-30 degrees E and 35-70 degrees N). These were based on continuous information drawn from proxy and instrumental data taken from several European data sites. The data include indexed temperature and rainfall values, sea ice conditions from northern Iceland and the Western Baltic. In addition, limited instrumental data, such as air temperature from central England (CET) and Paris, reduced mean sea level pressure (SLP) at Paris, and monthly mean wind direction in the Oresund (Denmark) are used. The reconstructions are based on a canonical correlation analysis (CCA), with the standardized station data as predictors and the SLP pressure fields as predictand. The CCA-based model was performed using data from the twentieth century. The period 1901-1960 was used to calibrate the statistical model, and the remaining 30 years (1961-1990) for the validation of the reconstructed monthly pressure fields. Assuming stationarity of the statistical relationships, the calibrated CCA model was then used to predict the monthly LMM SLP fields. The verification results illustrated that the regression equations developed for the majority of grid points contain good predictive skill. Nevertheless, there are seasonal and geographical limitations for which valid spatial SLP patterns can be reconstructed. Backward elimination techniques indicated that Paris station air pressure and temperature, GET, and the wind direction in the Oresund are the most important predictors, together sharing more than 65% of the total variance. The reconstructions are compared with additional data and subjectively reconstructed monthly pressure charts for the years 1675-1704. It is shown that there are differences between the two approaches. However, for extreme years the reconstructions are in good agreement. Copyright (C) 2000 Royal Meteorological Society.
Daily Weather Observations in Sixteenth-Century Europe
Thirty-two weather diaries written in astronomical calendars in central Europe in the late fifteenth and sixteenth centuries are presented and discussed. Systematic weather observations were promoted by the rise of planetary astronomy and its application in astro-meteorology. The practice of keeping weather diaries spread from Cracow (Poland) to Ingolstadt (Germany) and from there to other universities. The data obtained from these sources provided the backbone for setting up series of precipitation indices for Poland, Germany and Switzerland. Monthly statistics of days with precipitation, snowfall and frost were computed by counting the relevant entries in the most important diaries. The results were compared with either those obtained from instrumental measurements in the same place or with those from modern instrumental measurements in a neighbouring place. The final results show that autumn was considerably colder in the early sixteenth century. April was considerably drier and July was wetter during the period 1508-1531 than during 1901-1960. In order to highlight the impact of weather patterns on grain prices in a year of crisis, the timing of wet and dry spells in southern Poland and southern Germany is compared for the year 1529. Winters became 1.7°C colder from 1564 to 1576 and the month of July tended to be wetter than in 1901-1960. Details noted in the diaries kept between 1585 and 1600 by the astronomers Brahe (near Copenhagen) and Fabricius (in the Ostfriesland region of northwestern Germany) closely agree. It rained more often in June and July and temperatures dropped. The winter months were more frequently dominated by winds from easterly directions, the frequency of snowfall was higher and a deficit occurred in precipitation. This points to a higher frequency of high pressure in the Fennoscandian area with cold air advection from the east or northeast.
Documentary Evidence on Climate in Sixteenth-Century Europe
The known documentary climatic evidence from six European countries – Switzerland, Germany, the Czech Republic, ancient Hungary, Italy and Spain – is presented and classified in this article and then further analyzed in subsequent papers included in this volume. The sixteenth century witnessed an increase in the number and variety of sources in Switzerland, Germany and the Czech Republic as well as in the western and northern parts of ancient Hungary (present Slovakia). In northern Italy, the relevant sources are more abundant and widespread than in central Europe, but they have hardly been explored. Town chronicles written by members of the literate elite comprise the basic type of evidence in central Europe (including northern Italy and Hungary). This kind of source reports exceptional climatic events (e.g. anomalies and natural disasters) along with their impact on the environment and on society. Documentary data are the only evidence known to exist for reconstructing time series of natural disasters prior to the twentieth century. In order to document the extreme character of an event, chroniclers frequently referred to features in the cryosphere, biosphere or hydrosphere that were known to be more accurate yardsticks of temperature and precipitation patterns than subjective impressions. When records of such events are compiled with the description of some of the known effects, the results can be transformed into a severity index. Whereas chroniclers usually focused upon extreme events, long, continuous and seemingly homogeneous series of different kinds of proxy data are drawn from administrative records. Most of them are connected to the timing of certain kinds of agricultural work (hay-making, beginning of grain harvest or vintage) or to the amount and quality of agricultural production (per hectare yield of vineyards, sugar content of wine, etc.). In most cases the timing of these works was found to be directly related to temperature patterns over the preceding months and weeks.All the Iberian peninsula towns, which had an institutionalized municipal authority, have preserved documents generated from the late Middle Ages. These records frequently contain references to floods and meteorological anomalies such as droughts and long wet spells. They also include mention of the system of rogations, those religious rites performed in a standardized way within the Spanish world with a view to putting an end to an alleged meteorological stress.The data for Switzerland, Hungary and Spain as well as much of the data for Germany are stored in the EURO-CLIMHIST database set up at the Institute of History at the University of Bern. At present, EURO-CLIMHIST comprises some 600,000 data for the period from AD 750 to the beginning of the period of instrumental networks. About 120,000 records for Germany are currently stored in a data bank called HISKLID located at the Department of Geography of the University of Würzburg. The database for the Czech Republic includes records for the time-span AD 975-1900 and is housed with the Department of Geography of Masaryk University in Brno. Data on Italy were collected with different purposes and are stored in two data banks, the CNR-ICTIMA (climatic data and natural disasters) and the SGA (extreme events).
Seasonal Temperature and Precipitation Fluctuations in Selected Parts of Europe During the Sixteenth Century
The article in hand presents a comparative analysis of unweighted thermic and hygric index series of different European regions (northern Switzerland, Germany, the Czech Republic, northern Italy, ancient Hungary, Poland and Spain). Besides methodological aspects about the formation of indices, especially the progress as well as the question of similarity development of these series in the 16th century are discussed and shown on the balance sheet. It becomes evident that with respect to the temperature on the level of unweighted indices the European regions of Germany, the Czech Republic and Switzerland are very similar during all seasons. In winter and summer these correlations are especially evident, during the transitional seasons they are smaller. Larger differences exist between the central European core region and the adjacent areas of research. In principle, the hygric differences are larger than the thermic ones.In the course of the sixteenth century marked cooling phases occurred during all seasons with increasing accentuation. These phases were typical for the climate of the Little Ice Age. In addition to this long-term analysis, some outstanding years of extreme weather like those of 1540, 1573 and 1587 are presented, in the course of which questions of climatic impact are included. Finally, recent instrumental data was used to conduct an analysis that compared the similarities between the respective regions and the similarities between the empirical data and indices. On the one hand, this confirmed the spatial pattern, on the other hand the usability of the indices.
Éghajlati változások a középkori és kora újkori Európában
Climatic changes in medieval and early modern Europe.
A történeti ökológia másik arca : a természeti környezet hatása a társadalom változásaira
The other face of historical ecology: the influence of the natural environment on social changes.
Book review : De Jéricho à Mexico : villes et économie dans l'histoire
This article reviews the book "De Jéricho à Mexico : villes et économie dans l'histoire" by Paul Bairoch.
Book review : Les Nouveaux aspects de la théorie sociale : de la géographie à la sociologie
This article reviews the book "Les Nouveaux aspects de la théorie sociale : de la géographie à la sociologie" edited by Georges B. Benko.
Book review : Le climat en Europe au moyen-âge
This article reviews the book "Le climat en Europe au moyen-âge" by Pierre Alexandre.
Book review : Le climat en Europe au moyen-âge
This article reviews the book "Le climat en Europe au moyen-âge" by Pierre Alexandre.
Book review : Les petites villes du Moyen Âge à nos jours
This article reviews the book "Les petites villes du Moyen Âge à nos jours" edited by Jean-Pierre Poussou and Philippe Loupès.
Book review : Techniques d'analyse en démographie historique
This article reviews the book "Techniques d'analyse en démographie historique" by Louis Henry and Alain Blum.