Mirkka Lappalainen: Jumalan vihan ruoska. Suuri nälänhätä Suomessa 1695–1697 [The lash of God’s wrath. The Great Famine in Finland 1695–1697]

7 September 2012 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Jumalan vihan ruoska. Suuri nälänhätä Suomessa 1695–1697
[The lash of God’s wrath. The Great Famine in Finland 1695–1697]
Helsinki: Siltala, 2012. 262 p., ill.
ISBN 978-952-234-140-2
€25.50, hardback

There were two major famines in Finnish history: the Great Famine of 1695–97 and the hunger years of 1867–68. Basing her work on the latest research, historian Mirkka Lappalainen has written a general study of the earliest and most deadly years of crop failure. The famine struck Europe just as it was experiencing the main phase of the so-called Little Ice Age. Finland was one of the worst affected countries, as it had only just begun to derive a living from agriculture, and nearly a third of its population died. Finland was governed by the autocratic, centralised great power Sweden; frosts and rains destroyed hundreds throughout the kingdom, but the magnitude of the disaster in Finland was increased by the bureaucratic inertia of the centre in distributing aid, as well as the emergency food (moss, for example) which caused intestinal disorders, and the spreading of disease by beggars. The aid was also distributed unequally within the regions of Finland. In her book Lappalainen describes the fates of kings, gentry and rural poor as reflected in sources that include letters and official court records.
Translated by David McDuff

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