The effect of the Mount Tambora eruption is well documented in Europe. 1816 was a year of calamity for most of the continent. Spring saw heavy rains which were followed by snow in June and July that caused widespread harvest failures. Wheat yields in France, England and Ireland were at least 75 percent lower than at the beginning of that decade. Wholesale wheat and rye prices responded by roughly doubling in 1817 across the continent. The area affected the most was southern Germany where prices increased by three hundred percent by the period May to June of 1817. In Germany and Switzerland, people resorted to eating rats, cats, grass and straw as well as their own horses and watchdogs. This was the last great subsistence crisis of western civilisation.
The Volcano That Rewrote History
If you think this winter was unseasonably long and cold, you’re playing history’s tiniest violin.
Instead, with a year without summer, famines on multiples continents, an explosion in the Chinese opium trade, the global scourge of cholera, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, a golden age of Arctic exploration, and modern meteorology on its résumé, that distinction belongs to Tambora and its eruption in 1815 on the island of Sumbawa in Indonesia.
Thomas Jefferson, always on the precipice of financial instability, was brought to ruin after his wheat crops were destroyed by the record cold wrought by Tambora, which occurred at the same time as the panic of 1819
The worldwide cholera epidemic of the early 1800s kicked off in the Bengal delta after volcanic aerosols triggered a three-year disruption of South Asia’s life-giving monsoon.