ESEH 2013 Medieval Papers

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!


Leeds IMC 2013

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

Medieval urban environment review article

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: 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.

ASEH 2013 Medieval EH papers

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”


Catastrophe, Calamity and Chaos in the Pre-Modern World

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!

Symposium on Medieval & Renaissance Studies

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.

Tide Mills of Western Europe

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 ( 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.

5th Medieval Europe Conference

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.

Call for MARS panels at ASEH

The Medieval Association for Rural Studies (MARS) is looking to hold multiple panels on medieval and early modern European food production, procurement, storage and shortage at the 2013 meeting of the American Society for Environmental History (ASEH) in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 3-6 April 2013 – And we would like you to participate!

The ASEH’s annual meeting provides a wonderful opportunity for practicing and ‘new’ environmental historians of pre-industrial Europe to interact with and learn from each other. It also furnishes the chance to engage the methods, angles and sources of scholars working on familiar issues but in unfamiliar regions and periods. Additionally, by assembling multiple papers that share a common theme, we at MARS intend to create an environment in which scholars working on medieval and early modern food really stand to gain.

Possible topics include (but are not limited to) hunting, crop disease, fishing and fisheries, soil management and fertilisation, problems and costs associated with food storage and transportation, the effects of climatic anomalies and extreme weather on arable and pastoral husbandry, food entitlements, agricultural technology, the cultivation of fruit-bearing trees, and livestock disease.

If you are interested in presenting a paper with us, we ask that you submit to this email ( a 200-word paper proposal pertaining to our theme of food before 5 June 2012. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us.

See additional information about the ASEH and the meeting in Toronto. While MARS is unable to support travel or lodging, the ASEH offers a number of travel grants.

We encourage you to submit a proposal and hope to see you in Toronto in 2013!

ENFORMA at Kzoo 2012

ENFORMA is sponsoring five sessions at the International Congress on Medieval Studies at Western Michigan University, May 10-13, 2012. The sessions are:

Session 43: Medieval Environments I: Food Shortage and Subsistence Crises in Medieval Europe, Thursday, 10 am, Bernard 157

  • After the “Fall”: Feeding Rome in the Early Middle Ages – Kathy Pearson, Old Dominion Univ.
  • Shortages and Population Trends in Carolingian Europe, ca. 750–c.950 – Tim Newfield, Univ. of Michigan–Ann Arbor
  • Alternative Consumption: Fodder and Fodder Resources in Late Medieval English Economy, ca. 1250–1450 – Philip Slavin, McGill Univ.

Session 88: Medieval Environments II: Religion and the Environment (co-sponsored with AVISTA), Thursday, 1:30 pm, Bernard 157

  • The Lynn White Thesis: The View from Outside Medieval Studies – Elspeth Whitney, Univ. of Nevada–Las Vegas
  • Holy Environments and Saintly Identity in Guillaume de Bernevilles’s La vie de saint Giles – Monica Ehrlich, Univ. of Virginia
  • Gifts of Forest Rights to New Monastic Foundations in Thirteenth-Century Northern France – Constance H. Berman, Univ. of Iowa

Session 142: Medieval Environments III: Exploiting and Managing Animal Resources, Thursday, 3:30 pm, Bernhard 157

  • The Prince, the Park, and the Prey: Hunting in and around Milan in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries – Cristina Arrigoni-Martelli, York Univ.
  • Forgotten Landscape: An Environmental History Examination of Medieval Parks in Scotland – Kevin Ian Malloy, Univ. of Wyoming/Univ. of Stirling
  • Hunting for Abandoned Medieval Industry: The Addition of Geo-Chemical Prospecting to a Historian’s Toolkit – Tyler Chamilliard, York Univ.

Session 344: Fifty Years after Lynn White’s Medieval Technology and Social Change (1962) III: The Mechanical Revolution (co-sponsored with AVISTA), Friday, 3:30 pm, Bernhard Brown & Gold Room

  • Interlocking Structure of Agriculture, Trade, Shipping, Power, Corporality, and Escapement Images in the Pearl Poem – Martha Reiner, Florida International Univ.
  • Just Add Water: How Industrial Mills Spurred the Economic Growth of the Cistercian Order – Christie Peters, Univ. of Houston
  • Casting Aspersions: Fishing Rights and Twelfth- or Thirteenth-Century Mills in Northern France – Heather Wacha, Univ. of Iowa

Session 363: Teaching Environmental History: Interdisciplinary Approaches (A Roundtable), Saturday, 10 am, Fetzer 2030
A roundtable discussion with Richard C. Hoffmann, York Univ.; Alasdair Ross, Univ. of Stirling; and Janet Schrunk Ericksen, Univ. of Minnesota–Morris.

Some other sessions that might be of interest for environmental historians include:
Session 186, Friday, 10 am, Environmental Readings of Medieval Celtic Literature
Session 286, Friday, 1:30 pm, Fifty Years after Lynn White’s Medieval Technology and Social Change (1962) II: The Agricultural Revolution
Session 337, Friday, 3:30 pm, Natura Nova: Ecocriticism and Medieval Studies
Session 542, Sunday, 8:30 am, Women and Their Environments: Real and Imagined
Session 551, Sunday 10:30 am, Gardens and Nature in Medieval Italy

Conference registration is now open.

During the meeting, we will be collecting donations to cover ENFORMA’s membership in the International Consortium of Environmental History Organizations (ICEHO). Please give all donations to Ellen Arnold.