The Environment and History Poster Prize – ESEH Zagreb 2017

Well, the ESEH conference is over for another two years. It was a splendid occasion, impeccably organised by the local committee. For the first time Environment and History sponsored the Poster Prize. The winner of €100 and a whole lot of glory was Lukas Heinzmann of Bern University: congratulations, Lukas! Here, he introduces his poster,  Climate reconstruction in north-east Switzerland during the Late Maunder Minimum – An analysis of the weather observations in the Einsiedeln monastery’s diary between 1670 and 1704.

At the end of the 17th century, the monastery of Einsiedeln was not only a popular destination for pilgrims, but also a powerful actor who maintained contacts with the political and religious elites. The ownership of extensive areas partly contained the dominion about individuals and required a diligent administration, since it ensured the monastery’s self-supply. Father Joseph Dietrich (1645-1704), a monastery’s property custodian, was the main author of the Einsiedeln monastery’s diary. It was written between 1670 and 1704 and includes 18 books with a total number of 12’000 pages. Because of various duties, Father Dietrich lived several years in Freudenfels, Pfäffikon and Fahr, where he wrote six out of the 18 books. The almost daily written notes contain a wide range of subjects and provide an insight into every day’s life more than 300 years ago.

Due to the detailed and frequent descriptions of weather phenomena and its impacts on society, the diary is of particular interest to the Historical Climatology. It mainly covers the period of the Late Maunder Minimum (1685-1715), a low of the Little Ice Age and time of general cooling. The goal of the PhD thesis is to contribute new results to the research of the Late Maunder Minimum on two fields of the Historical Climatology: Climate reconstruction and climate impact assessment. In the first part of the thesis, the aim is to reconstruct the climatic conditions in north-east Switzerland between 1670 and 1704 as well as to detect monthly and seasonal weather anomalies. Therefore, the weather observations in the diary are collected and classified along the temperature and precipitation Indices mainly developed by Christian Pfister. The comparison with already existing data in the database Euro-Climhist ( allows first to check the results and second to compare them with the general synopsis of weather. Based on these results, the goal in the second part is to analyse the impacts of climatic variability and extreme weather phenomena on a pre-industrial society at different time levels. To this end, narrative descriptions of adaptions, alterations in behaviour and learning processes are of great interest.

The PhD thesis is closely linked to the project “Father Joseph Dietrich’s Diary 1670-1704 of the Einsiedeln Monastery (CH). A critical online-edition.” which aims at publishing the whole diary as an open-access online-edition. The fully transcribed and encoded diary will be available for various academic disciplines and research questions.

Lukas’ poster is reproduced below and also available as a PDF via this link:




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