What is 'brought most of Europe north of the Alps and the Pyrenees to its knees'?
Then, things took a turn for the worse. By 1315 a series of three wet, cold summers had brought most of Europe north of the Alps and the Pyrenees to its knees. Crops would not grow. There was no food to feed the animals. And salt was almost impossible to find. In that time and place, salt had to be made by evaporating salty water. And when it’s raining or very humid, water doesn’t evaporate well. The only way to preserve meat was with salt, so a shortage of salt was a disaster. No one but the richest landlords could afford to eat. Even the English king, Edward II, was unable to find enough bread to feed his court while touring the country that summer.
This chapter is talking about the medieval misery and the above part follows a paragrah depicting Magna Carta (for some historians, this moment marks the beginning of a new age in which the rule of law began to take control from moody kings and upstart warlords.)