Environmental History Network for the Middle Ages (ENFORMA) is a virtual network of historians working on environmental history in medieval times. The network is open to anyone interested in this research and teaching field. Recent news items are posted below. For more news and resources, look on the right menu.
MORTALITY CRISES BETWEEN THE PLAGUES, C.800- C.1300 CE
at the Stirling Management Centre, 12-13 November 2013
Organised by Dr. Timothy P. Newfield, University of Stirling
An interdisciplinary and international workshop supported by the University of Stirling and the Economic History Society, “Mortality Crises between the Plagues: Epidemics, Epizootics and Food Shortages, c.800-c.1300 CE” takes place at the University of Stirling, Scotland, 12-13 November 2013.
Participating scholars will address European mortality crises between the last outbreak of the Justinianic Plague in 750 (or 767) and the irruption of the Black Death in 1346. The Justinianic Plague and Black Death have absorbed the industry of historians of medieval disease, economy and medicine sensitive to mortality crises for more than five decades. Though interest in these pandemics has only grown in recent years with the explosion of aDNA studies of Yersinia pestis, the bacterium most consider to have caused them, the Justinianic Plague and Black Death did not occur in a ‘crisis vacuum.’ New research has illuminated several important inter-plague crises in human and livestock populations and has re-emphasised the severity of the best-known inter-plague crisis, the Great European Famine of 1314-1322. The late eighth through early fourteenth century was not a period of demographic respite. It was not salubrious by pre-modern standards or pathogenically benign. Europe may have experienced significant population growth, rapid urbanisation and large agricultural colonisation in the inter-plague period, but these developments were not dependent on a release from exogenous sources of widespread excess mortality. The extension of trade, expansion of population centres, growing market dependence, and increasingly regular contact between regions in the inter-plague period facilitated the dissemination of disease and the development of significant food shortages.
The workshop will build on and synthesise recent scholarship. Its four primary objectives are to identify inter-plague epidemics, epizootics and subsistence crises in time and space, to gauge the demographic and economic fallout of these events, to consider temporal and spatial trends in their occurrence, and to examine possible synergy between disease, hunger and climate in the inter-plague period. In addressing these issues, the meeting intends to improve our understanding of European demography and population health between the Justinianic Plague and the Black Death, and to provide a proper crisis context, hitherto lacking, in which the Justinianic Plag ue and Black Death may be better understood.
The Call for Proposals for the World Congress of Environmental History 2014 to be held 8-12 July in Guimarães, Portugal has been extended to 9 September 2013. Details about the submission process can be found online at www.wceh2014.ecum.uminho.pt. Proposals for individual papers, panels, and posters on medieval environmental history topics are highly encouraged!
A look through the ESEH 2013 program yielded a heafty list of papers dealing with medieval environmental history:
Climate and weather informations in Russian chronicles before AD 1500, U. Bieber (Austria), Session 1G
Between Latin and Lake Sediments: Environmental history of the Middle Ages, E. Zbinden (Switzerland), Session 1K
Why summer 1540 was likely warmer and dryer than 2003, O. Wetter (Switzerland), Session 2G
Human and ecological consequences of the 1540 Mega-drought – lessons for the future, C. Pfister (Switzerland), Session 2G
Salmon ‘fishings’ in later Medieval Scotland: Competition and conservation for a riverine resource, R. Hoffmann (Canada), Session 2I
Ice blocking and shipping in the low countries, 14th-18th centuries, A. Kraker (Netherlands), Session 3I
Conceptions of order in regulations of fish in the 16th century – river vs. lake, C. Sonnlechner (Austria), Session 6H
Regulating fishermen and aquatic life. Lake constance fisheries from c. 1350 to 1800, M. Zeheter (Germany), Session 6H
Agrolandscapes of terraced fields of the Northern Caucasus and their analogues in the Middle Don forest-steppe zone in the 1st Millennium AD, D. Korobov, (Russian Federation), Session 7D
Historical paradoxes of Medieval Northern agriculture at the Russian North, O. Trapeznikova (Russian Federation), Session 7D
Ancient Novgorod taxation unit “obzha” as an assessment of “quality” of medieval agrarian landscape, A. Frolov (Russian Federation), Session 7D
Connecting and separating the worlds: Rivers in old Scandinavian narratives of travels to the otherworld, G. Glazyrina (Russian Federation), Session 7I
Water means food means energy… circulation, land use and settlement transformation in Byzantine and medieval island systems in the Aegean Sea, M. Veikou (Aglantzia), Session 8F
Of wolves and sheep: Identifying the predator and the fleeced in the Coastal Highlands of Late Medieval Southern Anatolia, W. Ostasz (United Kingdom), Session 8F
Food production and consumption patterns in the transitional zones between different ethnic groups in the Byzantine world, A. Izdebski (Poland), Session 8F
Stories in circulation: Riverine miracles in the Early Middle Ages, E. Arnold (United States), Session 8L
Great to see the expansion of interest in the field!
The International Medieval Congress (IMC) will be held in Leeds, England, 1-4 July 2013. Here is a list of sessions of special interest for medieval environmental historians.
Session 228: Hunting for Fun and Political Gain
- Hunting and Pleasure, Hannele Klemettilä, University of Turku
- Forbidden Pleasure or Pragmatics of Power?: Bishops’ Hunting in the Late Middle Ages, Ewa Wółkiewicz, Deutsches Historisches Institut, Warsaw
- The ‘Delights’ of the Courtly Hunt, Ryan Judkins, University of Massachusetts
Session 733: Water in Medieval Society: Economic, Social, and Religious Implications, I
- Water Culture: The Hydraulic Constructions of the Almoravid Period in North Africa and Al-Andalus, Maria Marcos Cobaleda, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS)
- Water in Medieval Islamic Valencia (Spain): Hydraulic Structures and the Configuration of the Urban Area and Its Surroundings, Josefa Pascual Pacheco, Servicio de Investigación Arqueológica Municipal (SIAM), Valencia
- The Urban Evolution of Medieval Córdoba through Its Water Supply during the Middle Ages, Guadalupe Pizarro Berengena, Universidad de Córdoba
- The Hydraulic Systems in Medieval Islamic Córdoba: The Case of the Occidental Suburbs, Belén Vázquez Navajas, Universidad de Córdoba
Session 833: Water in Medieval Society: Economic, Social, and Religious Implications, II
- Water in Everyday Life: From the Material to the Symbolic in Late Medieval Spain, Maria Isabel del Val Valdivieso and Olatz Villanueva Zubizarreta, Universidad de Valladolid
- Sprinkling Water on the Corpse and the Tomb: The Rite of the Absolution of the Dead in the Middle Ages, Ana del Campo Gutiérrez, Yale University
- Fountains, Gardens, and Pleasure: The Image and the Symbolic Meaning of Water in the Hispanic Courts at the End of the Middle Ages, Germán Gamero Igea and Diana Pelaz Flores, Universidad de Valladolid
- The Configuration of Water and Gardens in Late Medieval Islamic Cordoba (Qurtuba), Rafael Blanco Guzman, Universidad de Córdoba
Session 1222: Animals and the Diversity of Pleasure, I
- Fun in the Chicken Run: Two 14th-Century German Poultry Poems, Gabriele Klug, Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Krems
- ‘[…] copia autem piscium excedit fere omnia regna’: The Delight of Fishes in Medieval Hungary, Balázs Nagy, Central European University
- When Pets Go Bad: Animal Bites and the Loss of Pleasure, Kathleen Walker-Meikle, University of York
Session 1322: Animals and the Diversity of Pleasure, II
- Possessing Wild Beasts in Monastic Menageries: A Condemnable Effeminate Pleasure?, Thierry Buquet, Institut Français du Proche Orient, Beirut
- Turning Heads: The Sartorial Use of Fur, Eva Fairnell, University of York
- Animals of Pleasure: Touch, Function, and Materiality in Gothic Ivory Carvings, Naomi Speakman, British Museum
Session 1422: Ostriches: A Round Table Discussion
Sponsored by Medieval Animal Data Network. Participants include Thierry Buquet (Institut Français du Proche Orient, Beirut), Alice Choyke (Central European University, Budapest), Dragoş Gh. Năstăsoiu (Central European University, Budapest), and Mónica Ann Walker Vadillo (Universidad Complutense de Madrid).
Session 1620: Perceiving and Explaining Weather in the Middle Ages
- Pleasure into Pain: Weather in the Old Norse Sagas, Bernadine McCreesh, Université du Québec à Chicoutimi
- Explaining Weather and Natural Hazards to a Wider Public: Konrad of Megenberg’s Book of Nature (1349), Christian Rohr, Universität Bern
- Late Medieval Weather Diaries in England, Kathleen Pribyl, University of Brighton
ENFORMA member Roberta Magnusson has published a review article titled “Medieval Urban Environmental History” in the March 2013 issue of History Compass. The article is available at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/hic3.12038/full. It provides an up-to-date succinct overview of the sub-field with a copious bibliography, and is a nice addition to Ellen Arnold’s “An Introduction to Medieval Environmental History” from 2008.
There will be several sessions/papers of interest for medieval environmental historians at the American Society for Environmental History meeting in Toronto, 3-6 April 2013:
Panel 3-J: Animals and by-products in Medieval Europe
Stuart Morrison, University of Stirling, “Transitions on the Icelandic Coastline – AD 1000 to c.1400″
Cristina Arrigoni Martelli, York University, “Ducks with read feet and shifting boundaries: Hunting in the Venetian Lagoon in the late Middle Ages”
Nils Hybel, University of Copenhagen, “Danish animal products in Europe c. 1100-1550″
Philip Slavin, McGill University, “Neglected dairy: capro-ovine milk production and consumption in late medieval England”
Panel 4-J: The Fruits and Insects of the early Middle Ages
Ben Graham, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, “Lucca’s lights: Olive oil in the early Middle Ages”
Noah Blan, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, “Charlemagne’s Peaches: the Cultivation and Consumption of a Mediterranean Fruit and its Limitations in Early Medieval Northwestern Europe (c. 750-850 CE)”
David Owen, York University and Tim Newfield, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, “Locust swarms in first millennium Europe, environmental contexts and human responses”
Panel 6-B: Water, Power and Society: a Comparative History of Rivers and Lakes in Asia
Ling Zhang, Boston College, “Whose Water, Whose Sand, and Whose Land? The Yellow River and the Local Environmental History of Lankao County (12th-20th centuries)”
Panel 8-I: Fish, Food and French Society in Three Environments
Abigail Dowling, University of California, Santa Barbara, “Fish as Social Capital: The Politics of Pisciculture under Countess Mahaut d’Artois, 1302-29″
Panel 9-F: Seeing from the Sea: Marine Environmental Histories
Valerie Dufeu, University of Stirling, “Human Ecodynamics in the North Atlantic: modelling settlement patterns and the emergence of commercial fishing in Iceland and the Faeroes, 9th-13th centuries”
Athabasca University and the Medieval and Modern Institute (MEMI) at the University of Alberta are hosting their first annual Virtual Symposium on Pre-Modern Studies, titled “Catastrophe, Calamity and Chaos in the Pre-Modern World.”
The symposium February 9th, 2013 between 9:30 and 11:30 am MST will be available for online participation. See the online program with abstracts and details of how to join the symposium virtually. This is a great opportunity to participate in an international symposium without the travel cost and hassle!
The Annual Symposium on Medieval and Renaissance Studies (June 17-19, 2013) invites proposals for papers, complete sessions, and roundtables. Any topics regarding the scholarly investigation of the medieval and early modern world are welcome. Papers are normally twenty minutes each and sessions are scheduled for ninety minutes. Scholarly organizations are especially encouraged to sponsor proposals for complete sessions. The goal of the Symposium is to promote serious scholarly investigation into all topics and in all disciplines of medieval and early modern studies.
The deadline for all submissions is December 15, 2012. Decisions will be made in January 2013 and the final program will be published February 15.
The touring exhibition “Tide Mills of Western Europe” supported by the European Commission through its Culture 2000 Programme, is now visiting The Netherlands at the Tide Mill of Bergen-op-Zoom until 9 September 2012. On 1 September 2012, a one day seminar will be held at the Old City hall (Oude Stadhuis) at Bergen op Zoom on the topic of tide mills. For more information you can contact Peet Quintus of the Westbrabantse Mills Society (firstname.lastname@example.org or 0031-621207895).
The same time, the River Lea Tidal Mill Trust (RLTMT) is now hosting the exhibition of Western European Tidal Mills, which will be on display until 20 August at the House Mill, probably the largest remaining tidal mill in the world, located very close of the Olympic Park (Three Mill Lane, E3).
The exhibition is still available for those institutions that might be interested in presenting it. More information is available at the project’s website.
The 5th Medieval Europe Conference will be held in conjunction with the European Association of Archaeologists 18th meeting in Helsinki, Finland, 29 August – 1 September 2012. The program includes many sessions that would be of interest to medieval environmental historians, such as “Living and Being in Wetlands and Lakes”, “Life in the City”, and “Organizing Landscapes and Settlements” to name a few.