Even climate change was a hot topic in the early modern period. It is widely understood now that between 1600 and 1800, continental Europe went through what’s been called the ‘Little Ice Age’, when winters were brutally cold and there was widespread crop failure and famine. However, 17th-century Europeans had no access to sophisticated meteorological statistics, so often bad harvests and sickly livestock were blamed on witchcraft. The ballad ‘Witchcraft Discovered and Punished’, also set to ‘Fortune My Foe’, documented the trials of three women in England in 1682, who were convicted of various kinds of crimes, including the deaths of children and farm animals:
The Country round where they did live came in,
And all at once their sad complaints begin;
One lost a Child, the other lost a Kine [herd of cattle],
This his brave Horses, that his hopeful Swine.