This concise survey examines the consequences of periods of dearth in England, in the years between 1550 and 1800. By the sixteenth century, periods of dearth no longer produced marked rises in mortality, as had happened previously. Instead, the ordinary people appear to have become more politically active, and an increase in the incidence of widespread rioting has been connected to these periods that followed serious harvest failure. Over the past twenty years there has been a dramatic increase in interest among scholars in these themes. This book surveys the enormous volume of literature that has been generated on the subject, explores interconnections, and draws attention to problems still outstanding. Particular attention is paid to a key factor in understanding food riots - namely, changes in government policy towards grain provisioning in these periods of dearth.