The Little Ice Age:  1400-1900
Global warming and cooling are nothing new.  The most recent Ice Age occurred from 1400 to 1900 AD.  This "Little Ice Age" caused major economic disruptions.  Land that had been only marginally productive became useless.  Mountain villages were swallowed as glaciers expanded in size.  According to some researchers, the Little Ice Age caused the extinction of the Norse settlements in Greenland. 
How much cooler was the climate from 1400 to 1900 AD?  Some estimates are from 1 to 2 degrees centigrade.   So during that period of time (including the Elizabethan Age), the climate of Europe was slightly cooler than it is now.  However, winters were still warmer than modern-day winters in the much of the United States. 
Paleoclimatic Data of the Last 600 Years, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
List of "Little Ice Age" Links, Dr. Thomas Lowell, U. of Cincinnati

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