Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • Cited by 39
Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
February 2018
Print publication year:
Online ISBN:

Book description

Dagomar Degroot offers the first detailed analysis of how a society thrived amid the Little Ice Age, a period of climatic cooling that reached its chilliest point between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. The precocious economy, unusual environment, and dynamic intellectual culture of the Dutch Republic in its seventeenth-century Golden Age allowed it to thrive as neighboring societies unraveled in the face of extremes in temperature and precipitation. By tracing the occasionally counterintuitive manifestations of climate change from global to local scales, Degroot finds that the Little Ice Age presented not only challenges for Dutch citizens but also opportunities that they aggressively exploited in conducting commerce, waging war, and creating culture. The overall success of their Republic in coping with climate change offers lessons that we would be wise to heed today, as we confront the growing crisis of global warming.


‘Degroot offers surprising insights into links between weather variations during the chilliest phase of the Little Ice Age and the Dutch Golden Age by exploring how merchants, soldiers and investors exploited new opportunities resulting from to climate change. The book is well-researched and exciting to read.'

Christian Pfister - Universität Bern, Switzerland

‘In The Frigid Golden Age Dagomar Degroot, a leading climate historian, presents a highly original perspective on an unusually cold era when Europe was immersed in a series of devastating wars on land and the Dutch were becoming the greatest maritime capitalist power from the Atlantic to the East Indies. In compelling prose, he expands our understanding of how climate cycles, economic and political rivalries, and environmental history interact.'

Richard Tucker - University of Michigan

‘Dagomar Degroot has written a powerful addition to the emerging literature on the wider human impacts of the Little Ice Age, in a book that will have a major impact on the field. His argument that the Dutch of the Golden Age responded creatively and successfully to the challenge of cold climate will have an important place in our evolved discussion of climate change in the twenty-first century.'

John Brooke - Ohio State University

'Skillfully wielding diverse interdisciplinary tools, Dagomar Degroot breaks with clichés of the Little Ice Age as unrelenting social catastrophe to reveal Dutch communities mitigating negative effects of climate change while exploiting new possibilities available to the perceptive and adaptive. The Frigid Golden Age establishes a new benchmark in the environmental history of early modern Europe.'

Richard C. Hoffmann - FRSC, Professor Emeritus and Senior Scholar, Department of History, York University, Toronto

'While most historians have focused on correlating early modern climate cooling with unrest, crisis, and decline across the Northern Hemisphere, The Frigid Golden Age offers a more sanguine appraisal of an aggressively commercial, modernizing nation’s adaptation to climate change, albeit at the expense of some of its own citizens and untold others. … As a historian engaged in ongoing collaboration with historical climatologists, Degroot is skillful in his interpretation of state-of-the-art climate science, some of which is presented in statistical graphs, charts, and time series that integrate documentary sources with studies of instrumental and proxy data relevant to the history of the Netherlands.'

Anya Zilberstein Source: Environmental History

'The Frigid Golden Age demonstrates that climate should play a larger role in Golden Age historiography, and the book’s interdisciplinary approach, its clear and careful methodology, and diverse use of sources establish an effective approach.'

Adam Sundberg Source: The Journal of Interdisciplinary History

'The Frigid Golden Age is essential reading for anyone interested in pursuing research in the field of climate history.'

Nicholas J. Cunigan Source: H-Environment Roundtable Reviews

'Degroot has uncovered a fascinating element of climate history, and it is a testament to his archival prowess that he has found this treasure trove of observations from a variety of sources, and that these sources were probably not all sitting in the same archive, much less in a folder labeled 'Weather'.'

James Bergman Source: H-Environment Roundtable Reviews

'In his book, Dagomar Degroot makes a strong argument for bringing the humanities and the natural sciences closer together to produce interdisciplinary studies that can generate new perspectives.'

Katrin Kleemann Source: H-Environment Roundtable Reviews

'Degroot’s Frigid Golden Age is an invaluable model for scholars doing climate history, but it is hardly the last word, and its publication should create opportunities for scholars of gender, indigeneity, or empire to push forward the research.'

Thomas Wickman Source: H-Environment Roundtable Reviews

‘… this book successfully brings together different methodological approaches, draws on a variety of source material and provides an engaging historical narrative which embraces a wide range of subject areas … it will be of interest to historians of the Dutch Republic and Europe as well as environmental historians, particularly those interested in the relationship between weather, climate change and human society.’

James P. Bowen Source: European History Quarterly

‘… this book offers a measured and painstaking reconstruction of some of the climate-related challenges facing Dutch society, as probably the most prosperous of the early modern period, in an age of comparatively cool and stormy weather … The book opens with a very clear explanation of the complex dynamics of climate change and climatic systems that governed prevailing winds and pressure systems in north-west Europe … Nevertheless, what this book demonstrates as effectively as any other is the overwhelming significance of the weather and the seasons in early modern European life, and for that reason alone, it deserves to be widely read and lauded.’

Paul Warde Source: Metascience

Refine List

Actions for selected content:

Select all | Deselect all
  • View selected items
  • Export citations
  • Download PDF (zip)
  • Save to Kindle
  • Save to Dropbox
  • Save to Google Drive

Save Search

You can save your searches here and later view and run them again in "My saved searches".

Please provide a title, maximum of 40 characters.


  • Introduction - Crisis and Opportunity in a Changing Climate
    pp 1-21


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Book summary page views

Total views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between #date#. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.