Overcrowded, with their famous textile industries in a slump, and the political climate highly unstable, the Flemish cities around 1280 seemed particularly vulnerable for the many shocks – Famine, War and Plague - which like the Horsemen of the Apocalypse haunted much of Europe in the following century. And yet, the expected 'positive check' of population did not arrive, or at least not as pronounced as one would expect based on Malthusian predictions about the relationship between population growth, food production and crisis. Were Flemish cities able to limit their vulnerability to food shocks? And if so, how did they manage to do so? In this project, the volatility of food prices during 'food shocks' will be used to investigate the capacity of major Flemish cities to overcome problems in food supplies. With every shock prices of basic food stuffs risked to explode, creating uncertainty and panic. For the first time combining the rich price evidence available in the accounts from urban hospitals and other institutions in five major Flemish cities with a very different access to food (Bruges, Douai, Lille, Cambrai and Ghent), we can assess the differential impact of war, harvest failure and plague, and investigate whether food shocks were overcome via specialisation or diversification of agricultural production in the hinterland, via access to long- distance food trade, via coercive or inclusive urban politics, or… not at all.