Outside Versailles: Disagreeable Weather in 1788 | Marie Antoinette's Gossip Guide to the 18th Century: Outside Versailles: Disagreeable Weather in 1788

January 28, 2011

Outside Versailles: Disagreeable Weather in 1788

Thomas Hand, A Winter Scene 1796.
The year 1788 is a notably bad one considering weather in France.  The country was first struck in July as an incredible hailstorm swept through the countryside.  The storm was wide and strong, and the stones destroyed crops across many provinces.  The following harvest was poor, suffering greatly from the loss.

The disappointment of the autumn was followed by an unusually bitter winter at the end of the year.  The severity of the weather took a toll on many areas of the country.

In Provence and Languedoc a third of valuable olive trees were lost.  Of the surviving trees many were thought to be useless until they could repair themselves enough to grow fruit again, a process that had the potential to last two years if ever correcting itself.

Group of Peasants in Winter 
Southern France also saw a great number of crops and grain destroyed from what has been described as, severe frost. (make of it what you will!)  And to add to the misfortune many chestnut trees also died.

I consulted The Weather Almanac and Meteorological and Rural Hand-book for 1865 just for fun, and learned the severity of the winter of 1788-9 did not reoccur for forty one years, the winter of 1829!


  1. Do you think it could have contributed to the rebellion the following summer?

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