‘Vulnerability’ and ‘resilience’ have recently become hot topics in historiography. The main focus is on systemic vulnerability: the reasons why certain societies were better able to overcome crisis. In this article I want to address another type of vulnerability – inspired by the insights of Wisner and Blaikie: social vulnerability, and the differentiated impact of crisis on different social groups. Based on a unique corpus of sources – the grain censuses drafted during the grain crisis of 1556/57 – and a reconstruction of household budgets, I will reconstruct vulnerable groups, the root causes behind their vulnerability, and their coping mechanisms. By doing this I will show how systemic resilience could go hand-in-hand with vulnerable people, thus adding more depth to a growing research strand.