In 1306, people throughout Europe were shocked to endure a Winter of unheard of harshness. For weeks on end there was freezing cold and winds of enormous intensity. The Baltic sea froze over for the first time in memory. In fact, there had not been a Winter like it for some 300 years. Those three centuries had witnessed the mildest weather Europe had known in recorded history. Wine grapes were widely grown in England, something rarely done before, or since. The longer growing season brought larger crops and fatter domestic animals. But in 1306 this all began to end. For the next fifteen years weather related catastrophies occurred with increasing frequency. The years were often either too wet or too dry, and it usually too cold. Even without the droughts and excessive rains, crop yields fell. Food supplies declined, even as population continued to grow. Relief came in the form of yet another catastrophe, the Black Death. By 1400, Europe's population was half what it had been in 1300. Then there was plenty of land to grow sufficient food for all, even with the shorter growing season.