Sky Michael Johnston

Perceptions of Weather in Early Modern Germany

My project investigates ideas about and practices related to the weather in German lands during the long sixteenth century (ca.1480 to 1618). Because weather was so ubiquitous and touched people’s lives in constant and potentially dramatic ways, it offers a revelatory vantage point on how people related to the natural world across society. Among other sources, I examine media directed at rural populations, such as low-market printed works known as Wetterbüchlein, and texts from Lutheran theologian-pastors aimed at entire local communities which reveal an interest in teaching particular views about the operation of weather to others. These works show a tension between naturalistic and spiritual understandings of weather that can actually be traced from a late-medieval context into the confessional era and Lutheran German communities. Ultimately, the study will highlight some of the important ways in which people’s interactions with each other were influenced by the weather—both in its physical manifestations and in people’s perceptions of it.