The origins and history of medieval wood pastures

in European Wood-pastures in Transition: A Social-ecological Approach, ed. Tibor Hartel and Tobias Plieninger, 55-69 (Routledge, 2014).

co-authored with Peter Quelch

Rather than historical ecology, which is the study of what the environment was at a particular moment in time, this chapter presents an environmental history, which is the study of the interactive relationship between humans and non-human nature in the past. This chapter does not attempt to reconstruct the quantity, quality, or composition of wood pasture present at any given time at different places in Europe. Rather this chapter overviews how humans in pre-modern Europe historically interacted with wood pasture, managing it as a mixed livestock-wood production system. It covers wood pasture traditions in the pre-modern era, focusing on the European Middle Ages and early modern period, in essence 500-1700 AD. The first section describes the role of wood pasture in pre-modern society in general. This is followed by five short geographical case studies showing the variety of historical wood pasture use in Europe and a section on recognising medieval wood pasture relics in the field.

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