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HIST364: Environmental History

Unit 3: The Middle Ages   *Following the fall of the Roman Empire, c. 462 CE, European civilization felt a power vacuum.  The Celtic tribes of Europe had hastened the death of Rome, which had been Christianized in the fourth century CE by Roman Emperor Constantine the Great.  Constantine had also moved his capital from Rome to the former Bosphorus city of Byzantium, renaming the city Constantinople, and he started his reign in post-Roman Europe.  Following Rome’s sacking in 462 CE by the Visigoth Theodoric II, Rome’s influence over European politics waned, which led to the ascendance of both the Catholic Church and local monarchies across Europe.

Much of the scholarship produced by the ancient, pre-Christian world was neglected by both the Church and by largely illiterate local power centers.  The Church carved out for itself, through the exclusivity of education in Latin, a monopoly on ideas that extended into the Reformation.  The relationship between humans and the natural world was limited to local superstition or the Bible until the St. Thomas Aquinas returned the exiled pagan philosophers the European intellectual canon in the 13th century CE, which led to the rise of science.  Christianity’s stranglehold on the medieval mind was fundamentally shaken when it could not supply answers for the horrors of the Black Death of the 14th century.  The scale of that natural disaster was such that it shook society to its foundations.*

Unit 3 Time Advisory
This unit should take approximately 14.75 hours to complete.

☐    Introduction: 0.25 hours

☐    Subunit 3.1: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 3.2: 3.5 hours

☐    Subunit 3.3: 0.75 hours

☐    Subunit 3.4: 0.5 hours

☐    Subunit 3.5: 3.75 hours

☐    Subunit 3.6: 3 hours

☐    Subunit 3.7: 1.5 hours

Unit3 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to: - Explain the medieval worldview and the position of people in relationship to the environment in that belief system. - Identify the origin and nature of the Black Death and the long-term impact of plague on society. - Investigate the environmental aspects and impacts of medieval warfare and industries. - Discover how new landscapes and social and economic changes meant environmental changes. - Examine how people viewed their environments through religion and science.

  • Reading: Environmental History Resources: K.J.W. Oosthoek’s “Middle Ages Environmental Timeline” Link: Environmental History Resources: K.J.W. Oosthoek’s “Middle Ages Environmental Timeline” (HTML)

    Instructions: Please click on the link above, and review the entire timeline for the Middle Ages (500-1500 CE).  The resource is applicable to all subunits in Unit 3.

    Studying this timeline should take approximately 15 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

3.1 Medieval Worldview and the Environment   3.1.1 Feudalism   - Reading: Dr. Steven Kreis’ The History Guide: Lectures on Ancient and Medieval European History: “Lecture 23: Medieval Society: The Three Orders” Link: Dr. Steven Kreis’ The History Guide: Lectures on Ancient and Medieval European History: “Lecture 23: Medieval Society: The Three Orders” (HTML)

 Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read the lecture
in its entirety.  Keep the following questions in mind while you are
going through the lecture: what were the “three orders”?  What was
the significance of such a tripartite division of society to Europe
in Medieval and subsequent eras?  

 Studying this resource and answering the questions above should
take approximately 30 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

3.1.2 Forests   - Reading: Wolfsong of Alaska: Ivy Stanmore’s “The Disappearance of Wolves in the British Isles” Link: Wolfsong of Alaska: Ivy Stanmore’s “The Disappearance of Wolves in the British Isles” (HTML)

 Instructions: Please read the entire linked webpage.  

 Studying this material should take approximately 30 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: Richard III Society: A. Compton Reeves’ “Delights of Life in Fifteenth-Century England” Link: Richard III Society: A. Compton Reeves’ “Delights of Life in Fifteenth-Century England” (HTML)

    Instructions: Note that this reading is optional.  Please read the entire linked essay.  Social immobility is one feature of medieval thought.  Peasants were tied to the land or to their masters in a life-long apprenticeship program.  Because of tithes owed to the land lord or the Church, shortage was very much a part of medieval life.  Although the forests were off limits to those not of noble birth, poaching was widespread, as hunting was one way to supplement a meager diet.

    Studying this essay should take approximately 1 hour.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

3.1.3 Land Use   - Reading: Fordham University’s Internet Medieval History Sourcebook: Paul Halsall’s version of “Dialogue between Master and Disciple on Laborers, c. 1000” Link: Fordham University’s Internet Medieval History Sourcebook: Paul Halsall’s version of “Dialogue between Master and Disciple on Laborers, c. 1000” (HTML)

 Instructions: Please read the entire linked dialogue.  These two
primary sources for this sub-subunit, via Fordham University’s
*Internet Medieval History Sourcebook*, indicate that humans should
take what they need from the natural world as necessary.  Also, they
demonstrate the primacy in medieval life of physical labor and will
give the student insight into the nature of medieval agriculture and
knowledge.  

 Studying this resource should take approximately 15 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: Fordham University’s Internet Medieval History Sourcebook: Paul Halsall’s version of Palladius’ “On Husbandry, c. 350” Link: Fordham University’s Internet Medieval History Sourcebook: Paul Halsall’s version of Palladius’ “On Husbandry, c. 350” (HTML)

    Instructions: Please read the entire linked essay.  Palladius, a noted Roman author of the 4th century CE, wrote this essay c. 350 CE, near the very beginning of the medieval period.  “On Husbandry” is a very early entry in a genre of advice writing on agricultural methods that grew throughout the Middle Ages.

    Studying this resource should take approximately 15 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

3.2 Plague     3.2.1 Human Interactions and Disease Transmission   - Web Media: iTunes U: Yale University: Frank Snowden’s “Plague (I): Pestilence as a Disease” Link: iTunes U: Yale University: Frank Snowden’s “Plague (I): Pestilence as a Disease” (iTunes U)

 Instructions: Please scroll to lecture 3.  Click “View in iTunes”
to download the video lecture.  Please watch the entire linked
lecture (48:55 minutes).  

 Viewing this lecture and pausing to take notes should take
approximately 1 hour.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

3.2.2 Social and Political Consequences   - Reading: University of California, Irvine: Dr. Barbara J. Becker’s version of Giovanni Boccaccio’s “The Plague of Florence” Link: University of California, Irvine: Dr. Barbara J. Becker’s version of Giovanni Boccaccio’s “The Plague of Florence” (HTML)

 Instructions: Please read the entire primary source document.  In
this text, Florentine author Giovanni Boccaccio describes the impact
of the Bubonic Plague on the Italian city of Florence in the
mid-14<sup>th</sup> century.  He discusses how the Plague decimated
the city and disrupted Florentine society, noting that bodies filled
the street and could not be given a proper Catholic burial.
 Boccaccio concludes that many residents gave up hope of survival
and simply stopped caring about their daily lives.  

 Studying this document should take approximately 1 hour.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: Dr. Steven Kreis’ The History Guide: Lectures on Ancient and Medieval European History: “Lecture 29: Satan Triumphant: The Black Death” Link: Dr. Steven Kreis’ The History Guide: Lectures on Ancient and Medieval European History: “Lecture 29: Satan Triumphant: The Black Death” (HTML)

    Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read the lecture in its entirety.  Learn about the Black Death, one of the most devastating epidemics in human history: its origin, scope, death toll, and its impacts.  Also, think about the following questions: how did people react to the deadly plague at that time?  What kind of humans-environment relationship was shown through such reactions to the plague?

    Studying this lecture should take approximately 1 hour.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

3.2.3 Long-Term Impact on European Society   - Reading: Dr. Steven Kreis’ The History Guide: Lectures on Ancient and Medieval European History: “Lecture 30: In the Wake of the Black Death” Link: Dr. Steven Kreis’ The History Guide: Lectures on Ancient and Medieval European History: “Lecture 30: In the Wake of the Black Death” (HTML)

 Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read the lecture
in its entirety.  The Black Death fundamentally altered the culture
and economy of Medieval Europe.  Europe lost over 25 percent of its
population, which created labor shortages and altered power
relationships among peasants, nobles, and the Church.  Peasants
began to overthrow the yoke of feudal ties to the land, especially
since whole areas were depopulated, and they began to demand social
mobility and political freedoms.  The Church, which had long
dominated the medieval world view and had suppressed observational
scientific study in favor of revealed truth, lost its vise grip on
the medieval imagination, because scripture could neither explain
the plague not protect the faithful from it.  

 Studying this lecture should take approximately 30 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

3.3 Global Environment   - Reading: Medievalists.net: H. Goosse, et al.’s “The Origin of the European ‘Medieval Warm Period’” Link: Medievalists.net: H. Goosse, et al.’s “The Origin of the European ‘Medieval Warm Period’” (PDF)

 Instructions: Please click on the link “Click here to read/download
this article (PDF)” to open a PDF.  Please read the entire article
(15 pages total).  You do not need to dig deeply into the technical
analysis of the article, but make sure you understand its basic
conclusion.  

 Studying this article should take approximately 45 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

3.4 Medieval Warfare   - Reading: Medievalists.net: Collin Davey and Monica L. Wright’s “Burning Down the House: Scorched Earth Tactics Suggested by Wace and Bayeux Tapestry” Link: Medievalists.net: Collin Davey and Monica L. Wright’s “Burning Down the House: Scorched Earth Tactics Suggested by Wace and Bayeux Tapestry” (PDF)

 Instructions: Please click on the link “Click here to read/download
this article” to open a PDF.  Please scroll down the PDF to page 52,
where the article begins.  Read the article in its entirety (pp.
52-56, bibliography pp. 57 and 58).  This and other readings in
subunit 3.4 examine the ways in which medieval warfare involved
intentional destruction of resources and the built environment.  

 Studying this article should take approximately 30 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: The University of Chicago: Mamluk Studies Resources: Albrecht Fuess’ “Rotting Ships and Razed Harbors: The Naval Policy of the Mamluks” Link: University of Chicago: Mamluk Studies Resources: Albrecht Fuess’ “Rotting Ships and Razed Harbors: The Naval Policy of the Mamluks” (PDF)

    Instructions: Please note that this reading is optional.  Please click on the above link.  Scroll down to “Mamluk Studies Review Volume V (2001).”  Click on the title, “Rotting Ships and Razed Harbors,” to open the PDF.  Please read the entire article (27 pages total).

    Studying this article should take approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

3.5 Medieval Industries and the Environment   - Web Media: Environmental History Resources: K.J.W. Oosthoek’s “Environmental History of the Middle Ages” Link: Environmental History Resources: K.J.W. Oosthoek’s “Environmental History of the Middle Ages” (Flash)

 Instructions: Please click on the link above, scroll down to
podcast 28 “Environmental History of the Middle Ages,” and listen to
the entire podcast (22:21 minutes).  

 Listening to the podcast and pausing to take notes should take
approximately 30 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: Dartford Town Archive: “Medieval Industry: Industrial Developments in Medieval Dartford” Link: Dartford Town Archive: “Medieval Industry: Industrial Developments in Medieval Dartford” (HTML)

    Instructions: Please read the entire article.  This resource also covers the topics outlined for sub-subunits 3.5.1–3.5.3.

    Studying this article should take approximately 15 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

3.5.1 Water-Powered Mills   - Reading: The Medieval Review: Richard Hoffman’s “Review on John Langdon’s Mills in the Medieval Economy: England 1300-1540” Link: The Medieval Review: “Richard Hoffman’s Review on John Langdon’s Mills in the Medieval Economy: England 1300-1540 (HTML)

 Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read the book
review.  

 Studying this article should take approximately 45 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

3.5.2 Mining   - Reading: University of California, Davis: Richard Cowen’s Essays on Geology, History, and People: “Chapter 11: Coal” Link: University of California, Davis: Richard Cowen’s Essays on Geology, History, and People: “Chapter 11: Coal” (HTML)

 Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read the entire
article.  

 Studying this chapter should take approximately 1 hour.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

3.5.3 Agriculture   - Reading: The Flow of History: Chris Butler’s “The Agricultural Revolution in Medieval Europe” Link: The Flow of History: Chris Butler’s “The Agricultural Revolution in Medieval Europe” (HTML)

 Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read the entire
essay.  

 Studying this essay should take approximately 1 hour.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: Strange Horizons: Rachel Hartman’s “The Medieval Agricultural Year” Link: Strange Horizons: Rachel Hartman’s “The Medieval Agricultural Year” (HTML)

    Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read the article in its entirety.

    Studying this article should take approximately 15 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

3.6 New Landscapes   3.6.1 Land Reclamation   - Reading: Medievalists.net: Stephen Rippon’s “Reclamation and Regional Economies of Medieval Marshland in Britain” Link: Medievalists.net: Stephen Rippon’s “Reclamation and Regional Economies of Medieval Marshland in Britain” (PDF)

 Instructions: Please click on the link “Click here to read this
article from the University of Exeter” to open the PDF.  Please read
the entire chapter (20 pages total).  Soil depletion from many
centuries of agriculture led landowners to reclaim alluvial soil as
arable land.  

 Studying this chapter should take approximately 1 hour.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

3.6.2 Enclosures   - Reading: Oxford University’s Department of Economics: Elaine S. Tan’s “‘The Bull Is Half the Herd’: Property Rights and Enclosures in England, 1750–1850” Link: Oxford University’s Department of Economics: Elaine S. Tan’s “‘The Bull Is Half the Herd’: Property Rights and Enclosures in England, 1750–1850” (PDF)

 Instructions: Please scroll down the webpage to item number 46, and
click on the paper title to download the PDF.  Please read the essay
in its entirety (32 pages total).  The movement to enclose
previously commonly farmed or grazed land prompted social upheaval
in late medieval society.  Many peasants who were formally bound to
the land in service of landlord or noble were forced to leave
centuries’ old manorial estates.  This created population pressures
as dispossessed farmers flock to the cities to look for work, which
in turn fueled both voluntary and involuntary emigration.  

 Studying this essay should take approximately 1 hour and 30
minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

3.6.3 Social Changes and Environmental Change   - Reading: Dr. Steven Kreis’ The History Guide: Lectures on Ancient and Medieval European History: “Lecture 22: European Agrarian Society: Manorialism” Link: Dr. Steven Kreis’ The History Guide: Lectures on Ancient and Medieval European History: “Lecture 22: European Agrarian Society: Manorialism” (HTML)

 Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read the lecture
in its entirety.  

 Studying this lecture should take approximately 30 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

3.7 Science and the Natural World   - Reading: Dr. Steven Kreis’ The History Guide: Lectures on Ancient and Medieval European History: “Lecture 24: The Medieval World View” Link: Dr. Steven Kreis’ The History Guide: Lectures on Ancient and Medieval European History: “Lecture 24: The Medieval World View” (HTML)

 Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read the lecture
in its entirety.  

 Studying this lecture should take approximately 30 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: Medievalists.net: Sanjek Franjo’s “The Studies of Exact and Natural Sciences in the History of the Dubrovnik Dominicans” Link: Medievalists.net: Sanjek Franjo’s “The Studies of Exact and Natural Sciences in the History of the Dubrovnik Dominicans” (PDF)

    Instructions: Please click on “Click here to read this article from Dubrovnik Annals” to download the PDF.  Please read the entire paper (16 pages total).

    Studying this article should take approximately 1 hour.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.