By Richard Hoffmann

ISBN-10: 0521876966

ISBN-13: 9780521876964

Because the first actual e-book of its sort, An Environmental background of Medieval Europe offers a hugely unique survey of medieval relatives with the flora and fauna. attractive with the interdisciplinary firm of environmental background, it examines the way normal forces affected humans, how humans replaced their atmosphere, and the way they thought of the area round them. Exploring key topics in medieval background - together with the decline of Rome, spiritual doctrine, and the lengthy fourteenth century - Hoffmann attracts clean conclusions approximately enduring questions relating to agrarian economies, tenurial rights, expertise and urbanization. Revealing the importance of the flora and fauna on occasions formerly regarded as simply human, the e-book explores concerns together with the remedy of animals, sustainability, epidemic sickness and weather swap, and by means of introducing medieval historical past within the context of social ecology, brings the wildlife into historiography as an agent and item of heritage itself.

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Sample text

Many societies lacked cultural grounds for purposeful written descriptions of environmental issues, concepts, or conditions, so like many economic, social, and other historical themes, these must be learned by reading ‘against the grain’ to see what the creator had simply assumed, had refused to acknowledge, or had attempted to conceal. This narrowly constricted role of the written record prevailed in most semi-literate pre-modern societies around the world. For all the long-perfected investigative skills of medievalists in many disciplines, honest scholars have to admit their inability to reconstruct many of the most interesting aspects of past environmental relations from the surviving records of any given past society, and notably those of medieval western Christendom.

Francis of Assisi may have engaged those questions rather differently from either his own local bishop or his still pagan contemporaries in Old Prussia or Lithuania. In all historical study, paradigms set the parameters for the information needed from the past and thus for the kinds of evidence historians seek on which to base their analyses and tell their stories. A Life of Francis may convey much about his feeling for animals but little about their use for draught power; an English demesne account does the reverse.

Wood was an essential fuel and raw material: 90 per cent of Roman wood harvests went for domestic and institutional heating and most of the rest to metallurgy and potteries. Fuel wood came from small-scale local suppliers, and that for Rome itself from a radius of some 200 kilometres around the city. To construct buildings and ships, expert lumbermen tracked down large timbers in forested mountain areas close to water-borne transport routes. Whole lowland and foothill woodlands had, moreover, been cleared for agricultural use and wetland swamps drained and cut.

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An Environmental History of Medieval Europe by Richard Hoffmann


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