This paper is an extension of an earlier paper (Neumann 1977) on historical events affected by the weather. More data are published herein on rainfall, pressure and temperature for spring-early summer 1788, when a severe drought struck France during anticyclonic conditions, leading to a crop failure. It is estimated that the grain harvest was 35%–40% below the mean for 1774–88. (The wine-grape harvest was even more catastrophic.) The shortfall led to increasingly high bread prices. The prices reached the highest level on 14 July 1789 (Bastille Day). Since workers spent about 55% of their income on bread and flour prior to 1788, bread riots had already broken out in August 1788. The number and violence of the riots tended to increase with time, causing a destabilization of public order.

A meteorological factor of secondary importance was the harsh winter of 1788–89, which brought additional suffering to the lower classes. The price of heating materials rose, and water mills could not be operated because of the ice.

Until April 1789 the numerous riots did not have, in most cases, anti-regime overtones. After May, however, the disturbances assumed political overtones, especially in Paris. This was due to agitation by the bourgeoisie who desired the abolition of the many privileges of the nobility and Church, and the lifting of restrictions on some economic activities. The bread riots, caused by the high bread prices (and, ultimately, by the drought), were used by the middle class for overthrowing the existing regime.

In France of the 1700s, the number of poor depended on the price of bread which, first and foremost, was determined by the harvest.

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Footnotes

* Emeritus, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel; in 1986–89 visiting with the Department of Meteorology, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark

** Météorologie Nationale, Paris, France

Part 1, “The Mongol Invasions of Japan,” was published in the November 1975 Bulletin (56, 1167—1171); Part 2, The Year Leading to the Revolution of 1789 in France,” was published in the February 1977 Bulletin (58, 163–168); Part 3, “The Cold Winter 1657–58: The Swedish Army Crosses Denmark's Frozen Sea Areas,” was published in the November 1978 Bulletin (59, 1432–1437); Part 4, “The Great Famines in Finland and Estonia,” was published in the July 1979 Bulletin (60, 775–787); Part 5, “Some Meteorological Events of the Crimean War and Their Consequences,” was published in the December 1980 Bulletin (61, 1570–1583); Part 6, “Inundations and the Mild Winter 1672–73 Help Protect Amsterdam from French Conquest,” was published in the July 1983 Bulletin (64, 770–778); Part 7 Protestant Wind—Popish Wind: The Revolution of 1688 in England,” was published in the June 1985 Bulletin (66, 634–644); Part 8, Chapter I, “Germany's War on the Soviet Union, 1941–45: Long-Range Weather Forecasts for 1941–42 and Climatological Studies,” was published in the June 1987 Bulletin (68, 620–630): and Part 8, Chapter II, “Germany's War on the Soviet Union, 1941–45: Some Important Weather Forecasts, 1942–45,” was published in the July 1989 Bulletin (69, 730–735).