Changing Landscapes: A Call for Renewed Approaches to Social History, Natural Environment,and Historical Climate in Late Medieval Provence1
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- 1 I must express at the outset my genuine and profound gratitude to the Social Sciences and Humanitie (...)
- 2 The document I describe is well preserved today in the Archives départementales des Bouches-du-Rhôn (...)
1On a September day in 1366, some men met on the banks of the Drouille, a stream that flowed from the mighty Durance, in the days when that great river was still undammed and more powerful.2 The Drouille then flowed through the fields along the left bank of the Durance, running northwestwardly to the walled town of Manosque, feeding fields and gardens as it went. The men who met bankside were not there to plant, swim, or fish, but instead engaged in an earthy confrontation. The stream had overflowed its banks, and the public road was flooded. This caused consternation for the farmers who relied on the waters of the Drouille for irrigation and for the municipal authorities responsible for infrastructure and water management. As the men inspected, and attempted to ascribe a cause for the backed up waters, tempers flared. A fellow named Bertrand allegedly shouted insults at a companion: “You are lying through your teeth, you shit-smeared lackey,” though in the criminal deposition that followed, Bertrand claimed that the other man had hurled a muddy gutter rock at him first, and that he, Bertrand, had only told the fellow to burn in hell (o va per brollar) when he threw the mud in his companion’s face. Regardless, a flooded waterway led to insults, mud, and thrown rocks, and so the court intervened.
- 3 The result of my comprehensive analysis of the Manosquin criminal registers appeared first as a doc (...)
- 4 That environmental history experienced a rapid emergence as a field of study is illustrated through (...)
2In the late 1990s, as a young doctoral student working under the supervision of Michel Hébert, I read this court record for my dissertation. At the time, I duly extracted what I thought of as all the pertinent information: the register number and folio, the dates, the men’s names, the nature of the criminal offence (insult, assault with fist and rock), and I took care to note in my records that the accused man managed to prove clerical privilege, a rare occurrence for this court. All in all, I deemed this an unimportant inquest record, likely useful only for the larger statistical study I was compiling of some two thousand inquest records.3 With the benefit of time, and following newer research impulses stemming from the emergent field of medieval environmental history, however, I now look back on this record, as so many others, and wonder how I missed the forest for the trees.4 Or, in this case, how I failed to see the river for the mud.
- 5 B. M. S. Campbell, “Nature as an Historical Protagonist: Environment and Society in Pre-Industrial (...)
- 6 R. C. Hoffmann, An Environmental History of Medieval Europe, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press (...)
- 7 Ibid., p. 3.
3This historiographical essay argues that documents such as the inquest against Bertrand Gavaudini, so abundant in the paper archives of Provence, could be used to develop the field of environmental history, an area of research that has exploded in the past twenty years for other parts of Europe, but which, for Provence, and, to a lesser extent, France proper, remains more nascent. I seek here to sound the call to historians of Provence, those who work in North America as well as in France, to consider the enormous benefits of an environmental approach to the past, to realize that our sources, widely recognized as some of the richest preserved from medieval Europe, can help inform an understanding of the complex relationship between society, people, their surroundings, and, most importantly, to re-insert, in the words of Bruce Campbell, nature as an “historical protagonist”.5 When we do this, we begin to recognize, as Richard Hoffmann so eloquently stated, that, “over time, culture and nature co-adapt, they engage in co-evolution”.6 Or, put differently, if “History roots in time and place – establishing situations, telling stories, comparing stories, linking stories [then] [e]nvironmental history brings the natural world into the story as an agent and object of history”.7
- 8 J. R. McNeill, op. cit., p. 5.
4For those unfamiliar with environmental history as a field of research, it is a “selective approach [that] still offers more breadth and depth” than traditional modes of historical analysis.8 It does this by narrowing the focus to nature, but then by widening the analysis to incorporate data, concepts, and approaches from other disciplines. Other schools of historical thought are interdisciplinary, of course ; social history, for example, depends on the methods and theories developed in economics, demographics, anthropology, and sociology ; similarly, women’s history relies upon feminist or gender theory. Arguably, however, no other school of historical analysis is so utterly dependent upon interdisciplinarity than is environmental history. Though environmental history can rely on traditional paper records (as is the case above), it routinely uses the tools and data produced by dendrochronology, palynology, climatology, archaeology, paleontology, geology, biology, epidemiology, and any number of other scientific approaches. This interdisciplinarity, incidentally, has thus far been lacking from the initial environmental forays conducted for medieval Provence.
- 9 A. Crosby, Ecological Imperialism: The Biological Expansion of Europe, 900-1900, Cambridge, Cambrid (...)
- 10 Hoffmann routinely uses evidence from traditional medieval written sources, charters, chronicles, l (...)
- 11 E. F. Arnold, Negotiating the Landscape: Environment and Monastic Identity in the Medieval Ardennes (...)
5Far from being uniform in its questions or methodologies, moreover, environmental history is a diffused field, allowing for a wide range of inquiries, some very broad, others very narrow. A work such as Alfred Crosby’s Ecological Imperialism demonstrates the power of a broad environmental historical analysis. It, by way of example, ascribes convincingly the successful European colonization of the planet to climate and to the exportation, transplantation, and eventual transformation of indigenous flora and fauna. It argues that without familiar climate and recognizable patterns of precipitation, and without the successful transplantation of European crops to foreign parts of the world, Europeans would not have succeeded in populating the planet as they did. In contrast, thematically-focused studies such as those carried out by Richard Hoffmann9 into fish species demonstrate the need to pay close attention to individual animal populations.10 In commenting upon the disparity in breadth and focus within the larger field, Ellen Arnold noted that “These approaches have demonstrated the degree to which medieval and early modern people were bound up to their ecosystems, the depth of the history of human environmental manipulation, and the surprising versatility of medieval sources as tools for environmental history”.11 Environmental historians, thus, study water but also fish ; trees but also fauna ; climate but also transportation. In doing this, they look to the history of pollution, food production, conservation, plants, animals, disease, health, bodies, urban spaces, man’s “footprint” in nature, natural “disasters,” energy, even theology, astronomy, and cosmology. And they seek to understand how all these categories of analysis intersect with lived human experience over time. This means that:
- 12 McNeil, op. cit., p. 6.
Under that very big tent, several sorts of environmental history jostle one another amiably, competing for attention like acts in a three-ring circus. Broadly speaking, there are three main varieties, one that is material in focus, one that is cultural / intellectual, and one that is political. Material environmental history concerns itself with changes in biological and physical environments, and how those changes affect human societies. It stresses economic and technological sides of human affairs. The cultural / intellectual wing, in contrast, emphasizes representations and images of nature in arts and letters, how these have changed, and what they reveal about the people and societies that produced them. Political environmental history considers law and state policy as it relates to the natural world. Environmental historians tend to be more comfortable in one or another of these rings, although some are willing and able to bounce around among all three, even between the covers of a single book.12
6In this essay, I demonstrate that the paper records from medieval Provence have begun to advance our understanding of how changes to, in, and from biological and physical environments affected the course of human history. I do this to show that an environmental history of Provence, embedded deeply within the social history of that land and its people, is possible and enriching. At the same time, my historiographical survey of the extant literature reveals a certain lack of movement, one that is in stark contrast to the scholarship available for other parts of medieval Europe. In short, while early scholars of Provence made promising headway into questions of environment, much work remains to be done by a new generation if we are to see the same advances currently available for England and northern Europe. My hope is that, in reading my efforts here, others (doubtless better suited to the task) will look more often to their records and approaches to reconsider the role of nature in shaping the society, culture, and lived human experiences of late medieval Provence. In the coming sections, I offer an historiographical survey to summarize the state of the research, and then put forth a brief environmental case study from Manosque.
7While an environmental history of late medieval, or even preindustrial, Provence is possible and beneficial using traditional sources as a starting point, modern scholars have never fully attempted such a thing. The reason for this oversight may be as simple as regional or national fashion. Simply put, in some places scholars pursue topics, methodologies, or lines of inquiry that may not appeal culturally to their counterparts elsewhere. This is certainly the case for environmental history, a significant subfield of historical research in the United States, Britain, and northern and central Europe. Despite early preliminary forays that inched toward full-fledged environmental history by dominant French historians, which I summarize below to capture the state of the scholarship and to lay out the foundations upon which newer generations may build, environmental history has not flourished in France, let alone Provence, to the same extent as it has in the United States, England, or even in other modern European countries. But fashion may be too facile a reason for this comparatively delayed development, which is often noted in the literature. John R. McNeil, thus, lamented the state of the field within France and even went so far as to label it “Environmental History Manqué,” writing that only one other nation, Japan, lags as far behind in its environmental historiography. As McNeil sees things:
- 13 J. R. McNeill, op. cit., p. 29.
French scholars came only slowly to environmental history. […] Some prominent historians such as Alain Corbin wrote about evolving sensibilities towards and perceptions of nature, while Andrée Corvol and her colleagues produced plentiful works on French forests. Others have lately written on water and urban themes ; indeed there were a few pioneering works in this vein in the early 1980s. French historians and geographers have of course written stacks of studies of the peasant landscape – which for them has had a totemic quality almost like that of wilderness for Americans – although generally not considering its ecological changes over time. For French historians, the reigning conception has been more milieu, (perhaps best rendered as "setting") than environment in the ecological sense. In addition, the environmental history of the French overseas empire has received only a tiny fraction of the attention accorded the British. Given the extraordinary record of innovation among French historians in recent generations, it is perhaps surprising to see them poorly represented in the ranks of environmental history. But then again, perhaps the stature of the Annales group was such that there seemed, for a long time, no point in trying new approaches to geographical and environmental themes. The masters had spoken.13
- 14 C. Ford, “Landscape and Environment in French Historical and Geographical Thought: New Directions,” (...)
- 15 Ibid., p. 129.
8For Caroline Ford, the historical evolution of French national identity mitigated and shaped the French approach to historical environment. Postwar twentieth-century French historians inherited a discourse, extending back to the French Revolution, which emphasized the concept of the French nation as a collective and unified spirit (even if that collective did allow for regionalism). According to Ford, “Jules Michelet explored these questions in his Tableau de la France in 1833 and concluded that France had to be understood as a ‘geographical person’ or as a soul”.14 Since France is neither insular, like the United Kingdom, nor peninsular, like Italy or Spain, and cannot, therefore, be defined by apparent geographic boundaries, by the mid-twentieth century, French intellectuals argued for “a unity and coherence by virtue of how landscape is used by man […]” But, Ford concludes, this approach “is one that necessarily militates against separating nature from culture and stresses the interconnectedness of the two”.15 This meant that while in England and the United States it was possible to write a history of environment and then examine how environment, as a distinct analytic entity, interacted with culture and society, the same could not be done easily in France. Instead, the result, throughout much of the twentieth century, was the dominance in France of historical geography, landscape, and rural studies.
- 16 Ibid., p. 131.
The term environment was rarely used […] in classic geographic discourse until the 1980s […] When the term appeared in the 1970s and 1980s it was viewed as an Anglo-Saxon importation. As Paul Claval notes, in 1965, there were few professors to direct a thesis on the subject in France. [As recently as 1996] Jean-Louis Tissier argue[d] […] that the term environment appeared relatively recently in French historical and geographical circles. Milieu géographique was the more frequently used term for describing a natural environment as well as that shaped by man16.
- 17 J. R. McNeill, op. cit., p. 14. I refer, of course, to F. Braudel, La Méditerranée et le Monde Médi (...)
- 18 See G. Duby, La société aux xie et xiie siècles dans la région mâconnaise, Paris, Armand Colin, 195 (...)
- 19 On Duby’s framing of medieval forests, see his L’économie rurale et la vie des campagnes dans l’Oc (...)
9If French historians in the second half of the twentieth century were slower than their contemporaries in the U.S. and U.K. to embrace environmental history, for whatever reason, whether fashion, national narrative, or some other cause, it was certainly not for the absence of early pioneers. Many of the giants who came out of the Annales School appeared inclined toward environment. After all, no less a figure than Fernand Braudel organized his magisterial work around the theme of the Mediterranean. Despite this, Braudel was limited in so far as he remained “blind to evolving environments,” and the physical landscape that occupied so much of his attention he presented as inherently static, “an unchanging force”.17 Subsequently, the great mid-twentieth-century historians of France (who also exerted considerable influence over Provençal historiography) likewise seemed to encourage early lines of inquiry into natural context. The most influential example of the mid-twentieth century is Duby’s classic 1952 doctoral study into the area in and around the central French city of Mâcon. Duby assessed the environment of the Mâconnais to trace the evolution away from older Carolingian institutions toward newer “feudal” ones.18 His magisterial La société had a strong influence upon the next two generations of French medievalists, many of whom applied his Mâconnais approach to other regions or places, including, of course, the towns and localities of Provence. Duby himself continued to contemplate the role of nature in his subsequent works. His great study of rural economy in Western Europe, for example, is notable for its consideration of medieval forests.19 He went so far as to sound the call for further study into such matters:
- 20 Ibid., p. 144-145.
The forest in the early Middle Ages had been a bottomless reservoir open to all, in which every man could plunge according to his needs. Above all else, it had been a vast pasture where domestic animals like pigs, sheep and oxen, as well as the herds of wild horses from which the cavalry of the great lords was drawn, had roamed in complete freedom. In the thirteenth century trees became a specialized and protected form of plant life intended to supply the needs of building, manufacture and heating. Indeed the contribution of wood sales to manorial income was considerably enlarged. A systematic study of these profits would be worth undertaking and sources for it are not so scarce as they might seem.20
- 21 E. Le Roy Ladurie, L’Histoire du climat depuis l’An Mil, Paris, Flammarion, 1967, is available in E (...)
- 22 C. J. Glacken, Traces on the Rhodian Shore: Nature and Culture in Western Thought from Ancient Time (...)
- 23 The original French version of the book was E. Le Roy Ladurie, Montaillou, village occitan de 1294 (...)
- 24 For an assessment of Montaillou’s contributions to anthropology and ethnography, see R. Rosaldo, “F (...)
- 25 E. Le Roy Ladurie, Histoire humaine et comparée du climat. Tome 1, Canicules et glaciers xiiie-xvii (...)
10By the last quarter of the twentieth century, no less a figure than Emanuel Le Roy Ladurie, showed prescient sensitivity to environmental change over time. Already in 1967, he had established his position as one of the fathers of climate history through L’Histoire du climat depuis l’An Mil.21 This early study was brilliant in its driving question and timing, appearing, as it did, in the same year as Clarence Glacken’s Traces on the Rhodian Shore, a complex text often attributed with launching the field of environmental history.22 Unlike Glacken’s book, though, Le Roy Ladurie’s L’Histoire du climat made little lasting impact. In the end, it was guilty of the same sort of analytic stasis as Braudel’s Mediterranean. For Ladurie, climate, geography, and temperament were fixed, immutable constants. Consequently, while modern environmental historians routinely nod to his early effort, few find much benefit in it or show it the same reverence they do Glacken’s book. More promisingly, a few years later, Le Roy Ladurie then devoted the first half of his masterful Montaillou to an ecological analysis of the eponymous town and its surrounding regions.23 The legacy of that book, though, has far more to do with its second half’s seminal contributions to the field of social history as to the genre of microhistory, since it paints a rich tapestry of everyday life, love, and supernatural belief as seen through a rich inquisition record. Montaillou’s first half, however, provides necessary context by informing the reader of the relationship between natural environment and authority. It considers why a village rendered remote by geography and topography escaped the sights of tax assessors and the inquisition for so long, how physical conditions influenced political power dynamics within the village, and even the complex relationship between shepherds, transhumance, and communication. By sketching the seasonal migratory patterns of shepherds, and revealing their lifestyle, Ladurie made an important early connection often lost on later generations of historians. His Annalistes roots led him, despite Montaillou’s clear abandonment of the longue durée, to consider how (agrarian) modes of production underpinned preindustrial societies. As the shepherds of Montaillou travelled with their flocks from village to mountainous pastures, they followed a natural rhythm that set the pace of life. Despite this important point, in the end, scholars, students, and popular enthusiasts today read Montaillou, much more for its scandalous portrayal of clerical sexuality, heretical belief, and neighbourly intrigue, than for its far dryer analysis of life and land. Within the broader historiography, I think it is fair to say that Montaillou is today almost universally revered as a pioneering work of anthropological and ethnographic history, and is almost overlooked for its equally important contributions to historical geography and environmental history.24 It is not insignificant that Le Roy Ladurie, often credited by his French colleagues as being the father of climate history, renewed his interest in the opening years of the twenty-first century. In 2004, he published the enormous first volume of his Histoire humaine et comparée du climat, a work which, despite its author’s stature and rightful claim to helping found the field, even today has failed to generate much enthusiasm.25
- 26 G. Parker, “Crisis and Catastrophe: The Global Crisis of the Seventeenth Century Reconsidered”, AHR (...)
[T]he author boasted that he had produced a ‘comparative history: following in the footsteps of Marc Bloch […] [Yet d]espite the cachet conferred on climatic history by Le Roy Ladurie, one of the world’s most foremost living historians, his epiphany has as yet made little impression in North America. In July 2008, although fifty libraries in North America boasted a copy of volume 1, only one had a copy of volume 2 …’.26
11So, despite books by the greatest Annalistes of the twentieth century, and despite the richness of French social and economic history, rural studies, and even human and cultural geography, French environmental history remains a relatively underdeveloped field, one that has only recently begun to move with something of the fervor it has enjoyed in the U.S. and U.K. for many decades.
12Despite the delayed start of environmental history within France, good work has been done, some quite early, on the environmental history of medieval Provence. Since no catalogue of this work exists to facilitate new research, it seems useful here to provide a summary, as these are the studies upon which new scholarship must now build.
- 27 Thérèse Sclafert (1876-1959) is perhaps less recognizable a name than some of the other pre-eminent (...)
- 28 See M. Bloch, Les caractères originaux de l’histoire rurale française, Institut pour l’Étude compar (...)
- 29 E. Bénévent, “La vielle économie Provençale,” Revue de Géographie alpine, t. 27, fasc. 3, 1938, p. (...)
13In the first half and middle of the twentieth century, historians of Provence, like their contemporaries in northern France and England, gave considerable thought to agricultural production and this, in turn, produced important insights into man’s domination of the land for food production, the impact of geography on human settlement patterns and economies, the circular relationship between land and culture, and the refinement of jurisprudence. One early pioneer in this study of agricultural production and human systems of organization was Thérèse Sclafert, a scholar denied her rightful place within the academy.27 Sclafert refuted the idea, first propagated by Marc Bloch, that northern agricultural producers organized their fields according to a superior triennial system, in which they divided their plots into three even sections, two for cultivation, one for fallow, and which they then rotated annually to ensure maximum soil productivity. Bloch and his supporters had posited that southern agricultural producers relied on a more primitive biennial crop rotation, an assertion Sclafert disproved through painstaking archival legwork in 1941.28 In fairness, Bloch’s 1931 study of the Midi had overlooked Provence. The prominent Alpine geographer, Ernest Bénévent, however, had seemingly corrected Bloch’s omission of Provence in 1938, and had supported his conclusion. Bénévent had concurred that, in his assessment, the “mediocre” soil of the Basse-Provence region did indeed prevent a triennial system of crop rotation, and did, as Bloch had believed, necessitate a simple biennial rotation.29 Sclafert disproved both Bloch and Bénévent using written records rather than suppositions based on contemporary soil conditions.
- 30 Coulet nuanced Sclafert’s conclusion when he surveyed the notarial archives of Aix-en-Provence for (...)
- 31 For a good example of where this sort of thinking has led, see the excellent article by J. P. Boyer(...)
14While Sclafert disproved Bloch, and though Noel Coulet subsequently nuanced her conclusions, the debate between historians and geographers was generating exciting new lines of thought.30 Through his support of Bloch, Bénévent had examined how humans and environment interact. He had looked at how geography dictates economic productivity in a region, how people’s exploitation of natural resources then impacts their surroundings, and how altered environments subsequently shift economies. Through a dispute between historians and geographers over historical crop rotations and dirt, scholars sowed the seeds for an environmental history in which nature had agency to interact with culture.31
- 32 This is the somewhat misleadingly entitled work: T. Sclafert, Cultures en Haute-Provence. Déboiseme (...)
- 33 L. Stouff, “Compte Rendu. Thérèse Sclafert, Cultures en Haute-Provence, déboisements et paturages a (...)
- 34 Raoul Blanchard (1877-1965) led a fascinating career. After completing a PhD on the regional geogra (...)
15It is, moreover, not incidental to note that Sclafert’s contemplation of land use led, at the end of her life, to an important, if contentious, posthumous study of deforestation and pasturage, one that widened the gap with historical geography and heralded the start of a differentiated environmental history in Provence.32 In her monograph on deforestation, she formulated an argument founded upon hundreds of primary sources. Through them, she attempted to demonstrate that in the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth centuries, powerful seigneurs, such as the Hospitallers and Abbey of Saint-Victor, acquired lands for flocks of sheep. Since those flocks required pasturage, landowners began to remove forests. This initially unchecked destruction of woodlands, she claimed, led to the first Provençal forest statutes of the thirteenth century. In her estimation, medieval landowners and shepherds struck a balance between grazing and woodland. Following the demographic upheaval of the fourteenth century, however, a shift occurred. Sclafert discerned through her documents that, beginning in the fifteenth century, early modern people upset the delicate ecological balance and showed a clear preference for flocks over forests ; they began, in her estimation, a systematic deforestation of the Provençal landscape. As Louis Stouff summarized, “Les grands domaines forestiers que les chartes du xiiie ont permis à Thérèse Sclafert d’évoquer, ont disparu à la fin du xviie siècle sous l’action conjuguée de l’homme et des troupeaux”.33 But not everybody accepted Sclafert’s conclusions about an ideal medieval balance and a harsh modern disregard for woodlands. The division between historical geographers and historians was growing, and no less a figure of international repute than Raoul Blanchard, a disciple of Paul Vidal de la Blache, who made his career spanning the Atlantic and who founded the study of French-Canadian geography, savaged Sclafert.34 In a review Blanchard published in La Méditerrannée, he noted with a “sad sympathy” (“une sympathie attristée”) that he had to disagree with Sclafert’s romantic and idealized notions of medieval forest management. He claimed to have read many of the same sources as she (though not all), and pointed to his own research on Provençal deforestation. He then openly accused her of being driven more by (feminine) emotion than scientific standards, and of falling sway to the opinions of forest zealots rather than sensible academic geographers:
- 35 R. Blanchard, “Compte Rendu. Thérèse Sclafert, Cultures en Haute-Provence, déboisements et pâturage (...)
Si elle en tire d’autres conclusions que les miennes, c’est qu’elle avait en tète l’idée fixe du déboisement à tout prix qui aurait inspiré les paysans, théorie dont elle m’a souvent entretenu. La preuve en est qu’elle cite avec éloges ceux que j’appellerais les ultra-forestiers: Surell, Demontzey, Mongin, tandis qu’elle se garde de toute allusions aux résultats apportés par les géographes Arbos, Blache ou moi-même, se refusant ainsi à les discuter. C’est là une attitude qui relève plus de la passion que de la recherche scientifique.35
16In Provence, as elsewhere, the divide between historical geographers and historians proper, highlighted by Blanchard’s scathing (and sexist) critique, marked the beginning of a new field, one that ultimately demanded different skills and methods. Blanchard’s public denunciation of Sclafert, only recently deceased when he published it, was telling not only of the gendered hegemony of knowledge, but also of the tensions that existed over the correct approach to past environment, and over which discipline could claim rightful authority.
- 36 Writing now twenty-five years ago, Jean-Pierre Boyer noted, “Force est de reconnaître que la biblio (...)
- 37 The leading authority for English woodlands is indisputably Rackham. See O. Rackham, Trees & Woodla (...)
17Despite its age and now dated approach, Sclafert’s book remains authoritative, in particular for historians who seek evidence of Provençal deforestation, if only, in the words of Jean-Paul Boyer, because the field has not exactly swollen since her death.36 In fact, Boyer’s claim, written in 1990, that “Les conclusions de Thérèse Sclafert continuent à faire autorité” remains just as strong fifty-seven years after her death in 1959. The same, conversely, in not true for other regions of Europe, where studies into forest history have indeed exploded, and taken on rewarding interdisciplinary dimensions.37
- 38 T. Chamilliard, op. cit., n. 25, p. 98.
- 39 For Manosque and its environs, I point here to the excellent and extensive archaeological reports p (...)
- 40 N. Coulet, “Pour une histoire du jardin: Verger et potager à Aix-en-Provence: 1350-1450,” Le Moyen (...)
- 41 L. Stouff, “Y avait-il à la fin du moyen âge une alimentation et une cuisine provençales originales (...)
- 42 See E. Herrscher, “Inferring diet by stable isotope analysis: a case study from the French Alps”, i (...)
18The scarcity of recent investigations into the green spaces of medieval Provence, however, need not be a deterrent to those who wish to broaden our understanding of how medieval culture evolved in tandem with Provençal woodlands. The recent thesis produced by Tyler Chamilliard at the University of Waterloo is evidence that much remains to be written on the visible facets of fourteenth-century arboriculture, even when viewed through the narrow lens of a single town.38 Of even greater benefit to scholarship would be for Provencal archival historians to form interdisciplinary partnerships with the region’s archaeologists.39 Noel Coulet’s seminal study into the gardens of Aix-en-Provence, for example, was based entirely on notarial records and monastery account books. Through those written records, he was able to trace brilliantly the socio-cultural history of commercial and domestic gardens in a number of places, inside and outside the city walls. Coulet’s study highlighted the sustaining quality of small gardens, their economic significance, and their dual function as practical / pleasurable spaces. He rightly concluded it by noting that “l’étude des vergers et des jardins […] se prolonge par un chapitre d’histoire des mentalités40”. Similarly, the preliminary work carried out in the 1980s by Louis Stouff on historical diet inevitably touches upon values and beliefs as much as it does availability of resources41. Stouff’s work should be read today alongside and against emerging scientific studies based around stable isotopes. Through such biological analyses, archaeologists offer stimulating insights into what people ate. Our understanding as historians of how medieval people used gardens, and how they consumed the food in their dishes, benefits enormously from whatever material record remains to be discovered through archaeological excavation.42
- 43 In addition to T. Sclafert, Culture, and N. Coulet, “Notes sur l’élevage” and “Sources et aspects d (...)
- 44 N. Coulet, “Notes sur l’élevage en Haute-Provence...,” p. 262.
- 45 All of these questions are taken up by a single, productive young scholar of environmental history, (...)
19In point of fact, just as Sclafert laid the foundation upon which to elaborate an environmental history of woodlands in Provence, there also exist the foundations for an environmental history of medieval animal life in that region. As alluded to above, the literature on Provençal transhumance and flock movements is remarkably well developed, and has been for nearly a century.43 That literature clearly emphasizes the importance of sheep, the largest producers of fertilizer in medieval Provence. But it also only begins to explore the importance of dairy cows and oxen, let alone mules, a principle source of energy and transportation, whose breeding and rearing remain understudied and poorly understood. While Coulet, writing in 1990, could declare that there were few professional animal breeders, but that almost everyone in medieval Provence raised some kind of animal (“tous ou presque sont éleveurs […] peu en font un profession”), a comprehensive history of human-animal relations in Provence remains still unwritten.44 Consequently, historians of medieval Provence are not currently as well equipped as their colleagues who work on other regions to consider, for example, the consequences of human-bovine plagues, the resulting consumption of diseased meat and its effects on humans, the impact of climate change or fluctuations in precipitation upon herds or food production, or any number of similar questions currently contemplated by medieval environmental historians.45
- 46 H. Bresc, “Pêche et habitat en méditerranée occidentale,” Castrum, 7, 2001, p. 525-539 and “Pêche e (...)
- 47 H. Bresc, “Pêche et habitat,” p. 527.
- 48 See G. Castel, “La bourdigue de Berre: le procès entre la ville de Berre et les Dominicains de Sain (...)
- 49 On the consumption of fish by religious communities, consult these two works: Y. Grava, “Notes mart (...)
20Offshore, the situation is at present only somewhat improved for the state of knowledge surrounding fish and coastal fishing communities. Henri Bresc has used notarial records and municipal statutes to examine the significance and fragility of coastal fishing and coral harvesting (coraillage). Both activities were potentially lucrative to the communities that engaged in them, but also vulnerable in periods of naval war, which were not infrequent. Bresc’s analysis also points to the ways in which culture and nature intersect through fishing. For example, it demonstrates how Catholic dietary restrictions created a demand for fish protein, how fishing areas were named in relation to their topography, and how coastal churches may have developed in an attempt to render civilized holy places that were wild and dangerous.46 But, according to Bresc, exploitation of maritime resources was measured relative to the widespread development of lagoons and rivers. The patrimoine comtal and donations made to Lérins and Saint-Victor prompted enormous exploitation of fresh and marshy waters.47 And just as Sclafert demonstrated that the expansion of pasturelands and resulting erosion of woodlands produced laws to protect natural resources, Gérard Castel and Roger Aubenas have shown how Provençal legislators and courts moved to define, safeguard, and arbitrate the legal rights of fishermen.48 In addition to these few works, there exist two early studies into the consumption of fish by religious communities, and studies into fishermen and their culture.49
21The scarcity of environmental history carried out for Provence need not prevent its application and expansion in the future, since the sources from that region are rich and lend themselves well to the task. Even a short inquest record such as the one summarized in the introduction of this paper, and transcribed below, can serve to demonstrate how nature was and is a powerful actor in human affairs. Our relationships, interpersonal, class-based, and economic, have always been, and will likely largely remain, influenced by natural considerations. For the Middle Ages, a period when social capital was so obviously tied to control of agricultural production, this is quite apparent, but it is no less true today when the world’s geopolitical balance hinges, say, on the exploitation of a natural resource such as oil. Now as then, men and women died over natural resources, some groups established dominance over others through control of nature’s products, and humans interacted with complex natural ecosystems in their attempts to structure societies. Similarly, in the present as in the past, nature responded to human interventions, deliberate or inadvertent, in ways that are and were not always predictable or convenient to human designs. At the same time, medieval people had a much clearer sense that they were part and parcel of a natural world than we moderns sometimes do. To remove humans from nature, as modern historical scholarship often does, to attempt to write the past without considering nature, or even to imply that there is a theoretical and pristine natural balance outside of humans, is inherently illogical. The human animal is part and parcel of the natural world, and our history is, to a large extent, the history of the planet since our arrival on it. Any attempt, for example, to explain the crusades without explaining the influence of weather, climate, topography, geography, and flora, to name but a few, is bound to fall short in its assessment of cause and effect. Similarly, a political history of class tensions in the fourteenth century that fails to consider the impact of the end of the Medieval Climate Optimum (c. 1250), of the subsequent onset of the Little Ice Age, of the cultural and economic horrors and demographic upheaval of the Great European Famine (1315-1322 CE) or of those of the Black Death (1346-1353), is incomplete and, quite frankly, imprecise. Yet, at the same time, such studies exist in abundance, many published by excellent historians and through the most reputable and rigorous of scholarly presses.
22How then to insert, or reinsert, nature into the social history of Provence in the Middle Ages, to demonstrate its agency in the human story of the past? Limitations of space and time prevent an adequate and full demonstration so, for the purpose at hand, I will attempt to apply briefly an environmental approach to the document mentioned at the outset.
23The conflict between Betrand Gavaudini and his companions occurred in the context of nature behaving contrary to the designs of man. In this case, tensions arose over or around a flood that posed problems for farmers, travellers, and local regulators. We know this because, the court inquest record tells us, there were also present at Bertrand’s confrontation of 1366 a number of estimators or municipal surveyors (extimatores), and several other local worthies or elites (probi homines). They were there to investigate a civil lawsuit stemming from the water that had recently flooded the public road (aqua labendo per iter publicum). This, then, was a case that demonstrated how the undesirable actions of the local Drouille stream affected human outcomes.
- 50 The Durance was early the object of historical analysis by local scholars. For a comprehensive and (...)
- 51 For a physical description of the evolution of the Durance, see M. Jorda, et al., “Évolution de l’h (...)
24Before continuing to understand the context and historical agency of the Drouille stream in Manosquin affairs, it is important first to consider briefly its parent and provider: the Durance River.50 This approximately 300-kilometre long natural waterway has always flowed from the same snowy source, a mountain pass located near Briançon, at an elevation of some 2,390 metres, in what is today the French département of the Hautes-Alps, but which, in the fourteenth century, was within the province of the Dauphiné. The Durance itself is a tributary to the powerful Rhône River, into which it feeds immediately to the southwest of the city of Avignon.51 It is important to recall that, in 1366, Avignon still housed the Roman Catholic Papacy, and that this political context generated significant devotional, political, and commercial travel between that city and Rome. Yet the Durance and its Valley had been major trade and transportation routes long before the Avignon Papacy, which Francesco Petrarcha (1304-1374) somewhat derisively labelled the Babylonian Captivity of the Church ; far more ancient settlers, Roman, Greek, and Celtic, established the valley as a conduit. By Roman times, the river valley formed part of the Domitian Way (Via domitia), an important point of access through the Alps, and the first road the Romans built in Gaul, to join Italy to Iberia. Evidence of this ancient heritage endures: valley and river still retain today the same ancient name accorded to them by Celtic, Greek, and Latin speakers: drouentios potamos, Dur[e/a]ntia.
- 52 “Les Grecs Marseillais […] était en communication par le Rhône et la Durance, au moyen de pontons o (...)
- 53 The original charter is located in the Cartulaire de Saint-Victor de Marseille, n°686. Editions are (...)
- 54 Arnaud published this decree, dated 21 August 1339. See C. Arnaud, Histoire de la viguerie de Forca (...)
25In ancient as in medieval times, the Durance was naturally volatile, though tradition maintains that ancient Greek merchants from Marseille navigated it, and abundant archaeological and archival evidence proves conclusively that medieval people did so as well.52 A charter from Raimon, Count of Provence, dated 1094, given to the monks of Saint-Victor of Marseille, thus, permits the abbot and his brethren to collect revenues from rafts that descended either from the Durance or from the Rhône (in ratibus descendentibus sive per Durenciam sive per Rodonum), especially those transporting salt or other goods.53 More locally, at Manosque, a ban from the town’s Commander and bailiff dated 21 August 1339 prescribed that merchants and sailors could only load wheat grown in Manosquin soil, or wheat that had passed through the town’s market, onto shipping vessels in the Durance.54
- 55 There is not yet an environmental history of the human reaction to the flooding of the Durance, tho (...)
26If the Durance was navigable and indeed navigated, it was also extremely volatile, and medieval engineers and merchants worked to tame its power to render it more productive for their purposes. In the thirteenth century, the river destroyed La-Roche-de-Rame, the ancient way-station of Rama, nestled along the river valley. Because of such unpredictable destruction, medievals built the first dams and dug early canals, like the Drouille, to control the volume and impact of water, to curb flooding, and, in our case, to provide irrigation.55 In modern times, specifically in the mid-1950s, this tradition took new proportions with the increased need for hydroelectricity. As a result, at that time, French civil authorities began major damming of the Durance. The cumulative result of centuries of human damming and redirection, coupled with deliberate modern reforestation, is today a dramatically altered aquatic ecology, although, despite modern human interventions, the Durance does occasionally still flood, most recently in 1994.
- 56 On mills, see A. Durand (ed.), Jeux d’eau. Moulins, meuniers et machines hydrauliques, xie-xxe sièc (...)
- 57 See, for example, note 63 above.
27By the later Middle Ages, the people of Provence had developed techniques that allowed for cohabitation alongside the volatile river and, indeed, prosperity through its aquatic energies. The harnessing of the Drouille stream is an example of medieval efforts to adapt a volatile river to human production. By 1366, the Drouille stream did not flow freely, but rather through an engineered canal parallel to a public highway, and that canal irrigated nearby farmland and provided the opportunity to power millwheels.56 Though the conversion from stream to canal is not reported in any modern histories, the inquest record itself provides convincing internal evidence that fourteenth-century man had harnessed a naturally occurring stream for energy and agriculture. Older local documents consistently use the Latin word rivus, stream, to describe the Drouille.57 By 1366, the time of this inquest record, however, the court scribe chose a different term. He called the Drouille an asaquator, a corruption of the Latin verb adaquare, literally “to supply with water.” Asaquator was the noun used in medieval Provençal documents to describe a small irrigation canal or water supply. French scholars today translate it as bief (analagous to the Provençal beal or bedal), the same word they use to designate the canal that conducts water to a millwheel.
28The terminological shift from rivus to asaquator was more than semantics. Taken alongside this inquest record’s reference to a gutter, and the local inspectors sent to determine the physical cause of the flood, the internal evidence suggests that by 1366 the men of Manosque were carefully maintaining the naturally occurring Drouille through manmade interventions and engineering. Like all canals, the Drouille required maintenance but offered economic opportunities. The short inquest record against Bertrand Gavaudani, therefore, points to how medieval towndwellers integrated infrastructure and natural resources within their urban spaces, and, tellingly, how municipalities struggled to deal with, and to regulate a vital natural resource, water. When nature did not cooperate with human design, livelihood, production, and profit were at stake ; millwheels stopped turning, fields dried up, and roads flooded. It is no surprise, therefore, that in such cases human tempers also flared.
- 58 The pre-plague population of Manosque was approximately 5,500 and, while Draguignan’s was about two (...)
- 59 J. Freeman, “From Riparian Rights to the Public Interest. The Evolution of Water Administration in (...)
- 60 J. Freeman, op. cit. n. 20, 3. He cites a local nineteenth-century newspaper article as evidence: C (...)
29The story of conflict around the Drouille figures into a broader context as Manosque was not unique in finding consternation through irrigation. Elsewhere, too, agricultural workers, landowners, and lords competed for irrigation access. Though there is as yet no historical monograph on the canals of medieval Provence, historian John Freeman has looked at riparian rights at Draguignan, a Provençal town comparable to Manosque and located 90 kilometres to its southeast.58 Though the primary economy of Draguignan revolved around sheep raising, olives, and viticulture, water rights remained an important issue for local agriculatural producers. Freeman gives credit to local Draguignan historian, Frédéric Mireur, for determining that the Count of Provence had the local canal dug to benefit his vassals. Though the Count presumably retained ownership of the canal throughout the Middle Ages, ancient Roman law, whose principles still help sway with late medieval jurists, deemed that all landowners whose properties abutted a waterway had equal rights to use its waters.59 By 1345, the countess of Provence granted a mill within Draguignan proper that drew on canal waters. In 1372, the commune declared upkeep of the canal the responsibility of local landowners.60 By 1376, four years before it purchased the property from the local miller, the commune had also begun to limit the use of canal water, as in summer months when irrigation could only occur if the mill were closed.
- 61 Ibid., 3.
That is, [farmers] could irrigate only on weekends, and then only according to a vaguely defined method known as ‘by rank by order.’ Whereby the farmer closest to the canal headgate was the first person allowed to irrigate. When he was finished, the next farmer along the canal could irrigate, and so on. Nonriparian farmers, wishing canal water, had to seek permission from riparians over whose property the water had to flow. To enforce these regulations, the commune employed its first canal supervisor, the aigalier.61
- 62 Ibid., 4.
30By 1428 this system had become unmanageable and the commune of Draguignan, faced with complaints, took more direct control of canal irrigation, required users to seek its permission prior to irrigation, and formed a policing body. “By such actions, the commune had done two things: it claimed the water which had once belonged to the count, and it reiterated that the operation of mills in town took priority over irrigation of fields”.62
- 63 The Hospital renounced its right to change the course of the Drouille and Conchettes streams in a s (...)
31What little is known of Manosque offers a parallel to Draguignan. In the thirteenth century, the ecclesiastical military Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem, effective secular lord of Manosque, relinquished its right to “divert, impede, or disturb” the course of the Drouille stream.63 By the mid-fifteenth century, the town consuls took advantage of sweeping liberties obtained centuries earlier, in 1207, to build a mill upon the Drouille. The knightly Commander of Manosque protested, since this new mill competed with his own mill. The Hospital, in fact, maintained its mill on a separate but nearby canal, the Beal du Moulin, which ran parallel to the Durance, along its left bank, but perpendicular to the Drouille, until it intersected another stream, the Valvarane, which itself ran parallel to the Drouille but northwest of Manosque (see Figure 1).
- 64 F. Reynaud, op. cit., p. 147.
- 65 Ibid., p. 127-128.
32The Commander’s protests of a rival mill controlled by the citizenry had little effect. After a lengthy legal struggle, the municipal authorities prevailed to the detriment of the Hospital’s economic interests.64 By the sixteenth century, however, in 1535, the Hospital retaliated and constructed a lock on the Drouille to divert water to its seigneurial fields immediately north of the stream. The townsmen in turn mounted an armed resistance and demolished the Hospital’s lock ; they subsequently paid reparations.65
33The infamous 1535 destruction of the Hospital’s lock was merely the most notable act of civic disobedience remarked upon by local historians of Manosque and, therefore, the one most repeated in later histories. The criminal inquest series contains evidence of less celebrated but no less important aquatic contests. While I am prevented here by time and format from embarking upon a comprehensive summary of all inquests that demonstrate riparian conflict, one other case touches directly upon the issue of control of irrigation, and underscores how control of nature pointed not only to a class-based divide, the struggle between elites and agrarian labourers, but more generically to private-public tension.
- 66 ADDBDR 56 H 993 fol. 73-74v.
34In an inquest dated 5 July 1364, just two years prior to the flooding of the Drouille, the court prosecuted some men for assembling at, and then destroying, a certain bridge that spanned the millrace (bedale molendinorum).66 The court record noted that they did this “to the detriment of the public good” (in dapnum rey publice). When asked why he was removing a portion of the bridge, one accused man told a witness that he was doing it so that the millrace’s water would flow to his meadow or crop (quod ipse pro faciendo ire aquam ad pratum suum). A second man confessed likewise.
35Streams, canals, irrigation, and mills were a constant source of tensions in the social life of late medieval towns. Owners, operators, and users of all sorts struggled to compete for water access. At times, they achieved equilibrium. When that delicate balance was disturbed by nature or by man, conflict ensued and medieval institutions, such as courts, adapted and evolved to provide regulation of shared resources. While it is often simpler to observe dramatic instances of communal-seigneurial conflict, these tensions were not limited to irregular, dramatic, explosive moments. They simmered on a daily basis and were one of the many, complex dynamics governing municipal and agricultural life. Mundane documents, such as those preserved within the Manosquin criminal inquest series, thus, can allow us to write better the history of urban development, class tensions, private disagreements, profit, technology, environmental legislation, even public policy, that includes nature, in this case water, as a mitigating factor and, sometimes, as an important historical agent of change.
- 67 This inquest record is badly damaged but preserved in 56 H 1005, book 2, fol. 26v-28v.
36To conclude, I shift from streams to sheep. In April of 1400, the lord preceptor of Manosque, Raymond Cornut, knight of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, ordered his official nuncio, Hugo Javelle, to make a proclamation (praeconizatio) within the nearby castrum of Montaigu concerning sheep. Unwanted flocks were entering Montaigu, roughly 5 km north-east of Manosque, and decimating its fields. And so, the nuncio proclaimed there that any person, foreign or local, who brought flocks of sheep, large or small, to graze at Montaigu, would suffer a stiff penalty: one hundred silver pounds plus confiscation of their sheep (amissionis averis). Not long after, the judge of Manosque, Pierre Rebolli, prosecuted a group of shepherds employed by a local dignitary, Raymond Basterii. The court accused them of repeatedly bringing their flocks to graze, night and day, to Montaingu (pro depastendo […] nocte et die ad diversis vicibus). The shepherds duly appeared in court, confessed, and paid fines (although the register does not indicate whether they composed, or negotiated, a lesser settlement, it was usual). The court, however, pressed on with its inquest to determine how, exactly, the shepherds managed their herds, and with whom they had transacted business.67 This was gritty business for a criminal court whose mandate included the prosecution of traitors, murderers, and others who committed high crimes against the crown. But it was also not uncommon. Throughout the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, Manosquin judges frequently found themselves interrogating shepherds, ferrymen, and farmers, commoners all, over minor delicts, as often (or more often) than they did true criminals. The criminal court, an extension of the seigneur’s authority, adapted its business to regulate grazing, just as it prosecuted those who coppiced trees, damaged crops, used fraudulent weights and measures, or otherwise tampered with man’s regulated ability to extract sustenance and prosperity from natural resources. While it is possible to write the history of transhumance for other parts of Europe, the rich records of Provence are among some of the few that preserve the actual voices of shepherds. These sources have the potential to add, therefore, a human layer to the evolving story of the environmental and natural history of Provence.
37What is still missing from the narrative, though possible, is the incorporation of evidence brought to light by other disciplines and sciences. Environmental history, for example, would ask whether the summer of 1400 was particularly harsh, whether annual precipitation levels exceeded or fell below annual norms, or whether disease (human or animal) was a consideration. It would then pull back the lens of time to trace patterns and norms, and situate Provence in relation to the continent. This sort of approach would allow historians not only to know whether and if grazing rights were a widespread concern in 1400, but to begin to guess at why they were suddenly a worry in Manosque of the early 1400s. What had changed in environment that suddenly necessitated regulation of pasturelands? Were there more sheep? More people? Was there less grass? Why? It is this sort of natural agency that is currently absent from many of the histories we write, an agency whose effects likely influenced the decisions of common people as much as it did elites, and helped shape small disputes, of the sort noted here, as well as major conflicts.
38Over the decade and a half since my formation under the able tutelage of Michel Hébert, I have attempted to maintain the training and methodology he taught me regarding urban history, social regulation, class struggles, and political organization, and begun a new project grounded in environmental history. That project pulls together an interdisciplinary team of historians, archaeologists, climatologists, geologists, paleontologists, and museum conservators. It aims to use written records from late medieval England to identify the currents of life on a medieval manor in East Sussex, and to excavate the physical remains of life on the Herstmonceux estate. Our goal is to gauge the impact of climate change, specifically increased rainfall and flooding, upon human settlement patterns on a land that was becoming increasingly wetter and inhospitable to agriculture, though one still capable of producing other material benefits for its owners. To do this, I still read court records, in this case manorial court rolls produced by the lords of Herstmonceux. But I work alongside social scientists and pure scientists to bridge the gap between social history and the physical planet. This is a daunting, and, frankly, humbling task for an historian. But it is one, I think, potentially very worthy of the talented historians of Provence. As I read the physical and written records produced by fourteenth-century England, I cannot but wonder how my conclusions about the drivers of Manosquin society would change through an interdisciplinary and environmental approach. As our world grapples with the effects of changing climate, it seems natural to revisit how we frame the past, to consider how our European forbearers encountered nature, and to confront how, in turn, nature shaped the world they left to us.
- 68 This map appears in F. Reynaud, La commanderie de l’hôpital Saint Jean de Jérusalem, de Rhodes et d (...)
39Figure 1: Modified Map of Manosquin Landscape after Reynaud68
40Contra Bertrandum Gavaudani
42Anno domini millesimo ccclxvito  die xv mensis Septembris
43denuncians Petro Passeroni de Manuasca fit inquisitio
44praesens per curiam Manuasce contra supradictum Bertrandum
45Gavaudani de Manuasca. Super eo videlicet quod accusatus ipse
- 69 From adaquare, meaning a small irrigation canal.
46pridem ad asaquatorem69 Drolhe in quo extimatores
47et nonnulli probi certam videbant questionem ex damno
48quod data aqua labendo per iter publicum dum idem de-
49nuncians dictis extimatoribus locum per quem
- 70 This is surely a scribal error for what should be the singular solebat.
50aqua labi solebant70 [sic] ostenderet contra eundem denunciatorem
- 71 Literally, “you are lying through teeth.”
- 72 Here the Latin varletas mirrors the French valet, litterally “lacky.” Similarly, the Latinized “cun (...)
- 73 Literally, “a fistful of mud.”
52merdos, et nichilominus certam ponhatam de luto73
53in facie eidem denuncianti proiessit necnon multa
54alia ibidem comisit et fecit . Quare Ego Fulco Audeberti
55notarius curie etc.
57Anno quo supra die prima Decembris v indictionis. Bertrandus
58Gavaudani de Manuasca supra accusatus iuravit stare mandatis
59dicte curie et meram facere super contentis in dicto inquisitionis titulo
60veritatem qui super eo interrogatus ipso sibi vulgariter dixit et confessus fuit
61verum fore quod quia dictus Petrus denunciator unam lapidem
- 74 Literally, “in a muddy gutter.”
62[crossed out: contra] coram deponentem ipso in quodam gurgite lutoso74 proiesset
63ex quo lutum in facie et in rauba sua dedit
64tunc deponens ipse cum manu lutum in carreria recepit di-
- 75 Meaning something like, “Oh, go burn” or “Oh, go to hell.”
65cendo “o va per brollar75” et lutum in facie eidem proiessit.
66Clericus est dictus
67Bertrandus ut paret
68litteris nominatoriis infra
70Cui fuit datum x dierum defens.
71[Then follows a letter to the court dated 15 December 1366 from Jacob Raymund, Vicar of the Church of St.-Saveur, viceofficer of the diocese of Sisteron, and chaplain of the curé of the Church of Manosque. It advises the secular court of the Hospital that Bertrand Gavaudan is a cleric and, therefore, not subject to lay jurisdiction. The letter instructs that Bertrand must be tried under ecclesiastical (i.e. episcopal) jurisdiction.]
1 I must express at the outset my genuine and profound gratitude to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) for the Partnership Development Grant whose resources helped support the general research needed for the preparation of this essay. Though the grant is intended to shine light on the impact of medieval climate change on an estate in medieval Sussex, it has allowed me to begin to develop sufficiently my knowledge of environmental history so that I may attempt here to project it back onto my primary area of expertise, the social history of late medieval Provence. I must also acknowledge the generous scholarly support and constant enthusiasm offered to me by York University’s Richard Hoffmann, a pioneer and leader in the field of medieval environmental history. I would similarly be remiss not to acknowledge the extraordinary research support I received from Ms. Caley McCarthy, a doctoral student at McGill University, in the preparation of the secondary literature required for this article ; any defects or shortcomings in the analysis that follows stem entirely from my own errors and shortcomings. The same is true of the helpful feedback Ms. Christina Moss and Mr. Andre Moore, doctoral candidates at the University of Waterloo, provided to me.
2 The document I describe is well preserved today in the Archives départementales des Bouches-du-Rhône (henceforth simply ADDBDR), Series 56 H, register 995 fol. 51r-v. I append an annotated Latin transcript below.
3 The result of my comprehensive analysis of the Manosquin criminal registers appeared first as a doctoral thesis under the co-supervision of Michel Hébert and Andrée Courtemanche, and then as a monograph. For the dissertation, see: S. Bednarski, Crime, Justice, and Social Regulation in Manosque, 1340-1403, PhD diss., Université du Québec à Montréal, 2002. For the monograph, see: S. Bednarski, Curia: A Social History of a Court, Crime, and Conflict in a Late Medieval Town, Montpellier, Presses Universitaires de la Méditerranée, 2013.
4 That environmental history experienced a rapid emergence as a field of study is illustrated through a tidy anecdote by John R. McNeil. McNeil pointed out that, in 1985, Richard White was able to survey the entire field of American environmental history in a single summer’s reading. By 2003, McNeil estimated the global literature was 100 times what it was in 1985. See J. R. McNeill, “Observations on the Nature and Culture of Environmental History,” History and Theory, 42, 4, 2003, p. 5 ; R. White, “Environmental History: Watching a Field Mature,” Pacific Historical Review, 70, 2001, p. 103 ; and R. White, “Environmental History: The Development of a New Historical Field,” Pacific Historical Review, 54, 1985, p. 297-335.
5 B. M. S. Campbell, “Nature as an Historical Protagonist: Environment and Society in Pre-Industrial England,” The Economic History Review, 63, 2, 2010, p. 281 – 314.
6 R. C. Hoffmann, An Environmental History of Medieval Europe, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge Medieval Textbooks), 2014, p. 10. This is the definitive introduction to medieval environmental history. Readers curious to understand the broad issues, approaches, and the state of the literature, are encouraged to read this book first and then to expand outward using its sample bibliography. I am personally indebted to Richard Hoffmann for his continued mentorship and guidance during my forays into environmental history. Many of the references contained in this article come from his exhaustive database, which he generously made available to me.
7 Ibid., p. 3.
8 J. R. McNeill, op. cit., p. 5.
9 A. Crosby, Ecological Imperialism: The Biological Expansion of Europe, 900-1900, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2004.
10 Hoffmann routinely uses evidence from traditional medieval written sources, charters, chronicles, legislation, etc. But he combines them with physical remains, osteoarchaeology, and climatological evidence. R. C. Hoffmann, “The Protohistory of Pike in Western Culture,” in E. J. Crossman and J. Casselman (eds.), An Annotated Bibliography of the Pike Esox Lucius, Toronto, Royal Ontario Museum (Life Sciences Miscellaneous Publications), 1987, p. vii-xvi, and subsequently reprinted in J. E. Salisbury, (ed.), The Medieval World of Nature: A Book of Essays, New York, Garland, 1993, p. 61-76. R. C. Hoffmann, “ ‘Carpes pour le duc’...: the operation of fish ponds at La Perriére-sur-Saône, Burgundy, 1338-52," Archaeofauna [Madrid], 4, 1995, p. 33-45. R. C. Hoffmann, “Carp, Cods, Connections: New Fisheries in the Medieval European Economy and Environment,” in M. J. Henninger-Voss (ed.), Animals in Human Histories: The Mirror of Nature and Culture, Rochester, New York, University of Rochester Press, 2002, p. 3-55. R. C. Hoffmann, “Der Karpfen (Cyprinus carpio L.): Der lange Weg eines ‘Fremdlings’,” in H. H. Plogmann (ed.), Fisch und Fischer aus zwei Jahrtausenden. Eine fischereiwirtschaftliche Zeitreise durch die Nordwestschweiz, Augst, Römerstadt Augusta Raurica, 2006 (Forschungen in Augst, Bd. 39), p. 161-167. We await with great anticipation the culmination of Hoffmann’s career-spanning studies into fish and European fisheries, his imminent monograph and magnum opus, The Catch. Medieval European Fisheries and the Antecedents of Today’s Global Fisheries Crisis: An Essay in Environmental History.
11 E. F. Arnold, Negotiating the Landscape: Environment and Monastic Identity in the Medieval Ardennes, Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013, p. 4.
12 McNeil, op. cit., p. 6.
13 J. R. McNeill, op. cit., p. 29.
14 C. Ford, “Landscape and Environment in French Historical and Geographical Thought: New Directions,” French Historical Studies, 24, 2001, p. 128.
15 Ibid., p. 129.
16 Ibid., p. 131.
17 J. R. McNeill, op. cit., p. 14. I refer, of course, to F. Braudel, La Méditerranée et le Monde Méditerranéen à l’époque de Philippe ii, Paris, Armand Colin, 1949. For the English version, see The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip ii, New York, Harper & Row, 1973. Environmental historians now read Braudel and wonder how he believed that, for example, as mutable a thing as climate was fixed in time and space.
18 See G. Duby, La société aux xie et xiie siècles dans la région mâconnaise, Paris, Armand Colin, 1953. My use of quotation marks around the much-contested term feudal is deliberate. For those unfamiliar with the now longstanding problematization of that notion, see the foundational article by E. A. R. Brown, “The Tyranny of a Construct: Feudalism and Historians of Medieval Europe,” The American Historical Review, 79, 4, 1974, p. 1063-1088.
19 On Duby’s framing of medieval forests, see his L’économie rurale et la vie des campagnes dans l’Occident médiéval (France, Angleterre, Empire, ixe- xve siècles). Essai de synthèse et perspectives de recherches, Paris, Aubier, 1962.
20 Ibid., p. 144-145.
21 E. Le Roy Ladurie, L’Histoire du climat depuis l’An Mil, Paris, Flammarion, 1967, is available in English translation as Times of Feast, Times of Famine: A History of Climate since the Year 1000, trans. B. Bray, New York, Doubleday, 1971. Le Roy Ladurie shares the prestige of having founded historical climatology with his English counterpart, H. H. Lamb, founder of the University of East Anglia’s School of Environmental Science’s Climatic Research Unit in 1972. Among Lamb’s many seminal works, see by way of example H. H. Lamb, Climate, History and the Modern World, 2nd revised edition, London, Routledge, 1995.
22 C. J. Glacken, Traces on the Rhodian Shore: Nature and Culture in Western Thought from Ancient Times to the End of the Eighteenth Century, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1967.
23 The original French version of the book was E. Le Roy Ladurie, Montaillou, village occitan de 1294 à 1324, Paris, Gallimard, 1975, and it was followed three years later by Barbara Bray’s award-winning English translation, Montaillou: The Promised Land of Error, trans. B. Bray, New York, George Braziller, 1978. The book continues to be reprinted and translated, including a 2008 Thirtieth Anniversary edition, a 2011 Chinese-language edition, and, most recently into Polish as Montaillou. Wioska heretyków 1294-1324, trans. E. D. Żółkiewska, Czerwonak, Poland, Wydawnictwo Vesper, 2014.
24 For an assessment of Montaillou’s contributions to anthropology and ethnography, see R. Rosaldo, “From the Door of his Tent: The Fieldworker and the Inquisition,” in C. Geertz and G. E. Marcus (eds.), Writing Culture: the Poetics and Politics of Ethnography, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1986, 77-97. Despite this fact, McNeil notes that “To a very limited extent, then, Annales historians were engaged in environmental history avant la lettre, although they never adopted the term before 1974 nor, so far as I can tell, thought of themselves in such terms. Their general approach however proved inspirational for many who would become environmental historians, as it did for practitioners of so many genres within the discipline of history.” McNeil, op. cit., p. 14.
25 E. Le Roy Ladurie, Histoire humaine et comparée du climat. Tome 1, Canicules et glaciers xiiie-xviiie siècles, Paris, Fayard, 2004. Volume 2, Disettes et révolutions (1740-1860), appeared in 2006, and the final volume 3, Le réchauffement de 1860 à nos jours, 2009.
26 G. Parker, “Crisis and Catastrophe: The Global Crisis of the Seventeenth Century Reconsidered”, AHR Forum, October 2008, p. 1077-1078. Parker’s point is substantiated by the relatively low number of peer reviews of these books in either French or English. Those reviews that do exist tend to summarize the content and steer clear of much assessment.
27 Thérèse Sclafert (1876-1959) is perhaps less recognizable a name than some of the other pre-eminent French historians surveyed thus far in this essay. While she managed to achieve a special place in the French academy of her day, her sex prevented her from achieving the full acknowledgement of her intellect and skill. In her lifetime, she was one of only two women, with Lucie Varga, to be allowed to publish essays in the Annales journal. Nevertheless, she “spent most of her life teaching at secondary schools and teacher’s colleges.” Consequently, she was prevented from training the next generation, an injustice that doubtless stunted the field. M. Spongberg, Writing Women’s History since the Renaissance, New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2002, p. 164.
28 See M. Bloch, Les caractères originaux de l’histoire rurale française, Institut pour l’Étude comparative des civilisations, Oslo, 1931. This was the paradigm Sclafert dismantled in T. Sclafert, “Usages agraires dans les régions provençales avant le xviie siècle. Les assolements,” Revue de géographie alpine, 29, 1941, p. 471-492.
29 E. Bénévent, “La vielle économie Provençale,” Revue de Géographie alpine, t. 27, fasc. 3, 1938, p. 543.
30 Coulet nuanced Sclafert’s conclusion when he surveyed the notarial archives of Aix-en-Provence for evidence contained in tenant farming leases (fermages) and sharecropping arrangements (métayages). There he found twenty-one contracts involving a biennial system, and sixty-three a triennial one. This contrasts what Louis Stouff observed for Arles, where biennial rotations were the norm. See N. Coulet, “Rotations de culture en Basse-Provence au xve siècle,” Histoire des techniques et sources documentaires, Aix-en-Provence, 1995, p. 201-205. Coulet also continued Sclafert’s work on transhumance in his articles “Sources et aspects de l’histoire de la transhumance des ovins en Provence au bas Moyen Âge,” Le monde alpin et rhodanien, 6, 1978, p. 213-247 and in his “Notes sur l’élevage en Haute-Provence, xive-xve siècles,” Provence historique, 40, 161, 1990, p. 257.
31 For a good example of where this sort of thinking has led, see the excellent article by J. P. Boyer, “Dominer et exploiter la terre en Haute Provence entre le xiie et le xive siècle,” in M.-Cl. Amouretti and G. Comet (ed.), Agriculture méditerranéenne. Variété des techniques anciennes, Aix-en-Provence, Presses Universitaires de Provence, 2002, p. 41-82. In it, the author studies the crucial role of public hunting grounds and liminal zones of food production which supplied medievals with degraded plants, cheap pasture, and interim crops. These zones, he argues, helped populations subsist while also supporting an abundance of dispersed settlements. This adds a layer of complexity to the traditional Provençal narrative of mononucleated population structures and land arrangements to emphasize that human domination and exploitation of the land was thorough and complex.
32 This is the somewhat misleadingly entitled work: T. Sclafert, Cultures en Haute-Provence. Déboisement et pâturages au Moyen-Âge, Paris, S.E.V.P.E.N., 1959.
33 L. Stouff, “Compte Rendu. Thérèse Sclafert, Cultures en Haute-Provence, déboisements et paturages au Moyen Âge”, Etudes rurales, 1, 1, 1961, p. 81.
34 Raoul Blanchard (1877-1965) led a fascinating career. After completing a PhD on the regional geography of Flanders under the supervision of Vidal de la Blache, Blanchard focused most of his career on the French Alps. He headed the Institut de géographie alpine and edited the Revue de géographie alpine. He also taught at Harvard and in Québec, and he conducted important major studies on the geography of French Canada and its people, including an urban geography of Montreal. In recognition of the thirty-five books and articles he authored on Québec geography, he is credited as the father of modern geography in that province. In a telling recognition of his contribution, the government of Québec named the highest peak in the Laurentian mountain range after him. Mont Raoul Blanchard stands at 1,166 metres in height, and is 64 km north-east of Québec City.
35 R. Blanchard, “Compte Rendu. Thérèse Sclafert, Cultures en Haute-Provence, déboisements et pâturages au Moyen Âge,” Méditerrannée, 3, 1, 1962, p. 82.
36 Writing now twenty-five years ago, Jean-Pierre Boyer noted, “Force est de reconnaître que la bibliographie du sujet ne s’est pas exagérément enflée depuis trente ans.” J.-P. Boyer, « Pour une histoire des forêts de Haute-Provence (xiiie-xve s.), » Provence historique, 161, 1990, p. 267. Boyer points to the article by Billioud on logging in the Durance: J. Billioud, « Les bois des Hautes-Alpes en Provence », Bulletin de la Société d’Études des Hautes-Alpes, 52, 1960, p. 106-112, but notes that only the first three pages pertain to the Middle Ages. Boyer was not the only historian to remark on the lack of bibliographic advancement in this field. The same year he wrote his remark, Noël Coulet echoed, « Les apports nouveaux sont peu nombreux et l’état de la bibliographie ne s’est guère amélioré », N. Coulet, “Notes sur l’élevage,” p. 257.
37 The leading authority for English woodlands is indisputably Rackham. See O. Rackham, Trees & Woodlands in the British Landscape: the Complete History of Britain’s Trees, Woods & Hedgerows, London, J. M. Dent, 1990. See also his: Ancient Woodland: Its History, Vegetation and Uses in England, Castlepoint Press, London, 1980 ; The History of the Countryside, London, J. M. Dent, 1986 ; The Last Forest: The Story of Hatfield Forest, London, Weidenfeld & Nicolson History, 1998 ; and The Illustrated History of the Countryside, London, Phoenix Press, 2000. Of equal importance to those interested in the environmental history of wooded spaces are: M. Williams, Deforesting the Earth: From Prehistory to Global Crisis: An Abridgement, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 2006 ; R. Bechmann, Trees and Man. The Forest in the Middle Ages, New York, 1990 ; I. D. Rotherham, Trees, Forested Landscapes and Grazing Animals: A European Perspective on Woodlands and Grazed Treescapes, New York, Routledge, 2013 ; J. Thirgood, Man and the Mediterranean Forest: A History of Resource Depletion, New York, The Academic Press, 1981 ; R. Meiggs, Trees and Timber in the Ancient Mediterranean World, Oxford, The Clarendon Press, 1982 ; C. Wickham, “European Forests in the Early Middle Ages: Landscape and Land Clearance”, in Chris Wickham (ed.), Land and Power: Studies in Italian and European Social History 400-1200, London, British School at Rome, 1994, p. 155-199 ; R. Keyser, “The Transformation of Traditional Woodland Management: Commercial Sylviculture in Medieval Champagne,” French Historical Studies, 32, 2, 2009, p. 353-384 ; J. Birrell, “Common Rights in the Medieval Forest,” Past & Present, 117, 1987, p. 22-49 ; V. Clement, “Spanish Wood Pasture: Origin and Durability of an Historical Wooded Landscape in Mediterranean Europe,” Environment and History, 14, 2008, p. 67-87 ; P. Warde, Ecology, Economy and State Formation in Early Modern Germany, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2006 ; K. Appuhn, A Forest on the Sea: Environmental Expertise in Renaissance Venice, Baltimore, Johns Hopkins UP, 2009 ; J. Radkau, “Wood and Forestry in German History: In Quest of an Environmental Approach,” Environment and History, 2, 1996, p. 63-76. For France proper, the dominant voice remains Corval, whose work on the Ancien Régime does not prioritize the Middle Ages. Nonetheless, among her many works, see A. Corval, L’Homme au bois : histoire des relations de l’homme et de la forêt, xviie-xxe siècle, Paris, Fayard, 1987, and L’Homme et l’arbre sous l’Ancien Régime, Paris, Economica, 1984.
38 T. Chamilliard, op. cit., n. 25, p. 98.
39 For Manosque and its environs, I point here to the excellent and extensive archaeological reports produced over the past twenty years by Sandrine Claude and her colleagues. See, by way of example, C. Barra and S. Claude, “Les Observantins, 3 à 7, rue des Payans, 20 à 36 et 39, rue de Bon-Repos, à Manosque (Alpes-de-Haute-Provence). Diagnostic”, Final Field Report / Rapport final d’opération (Aix-en-Provence: I.N.R.A.P, S.R.A. P.A.C.A., 2005). Urban archaeology offers the promise of shining new light on physical space, the integration of natural features within a walled community, and much more.
40 N. Coulet, “Pour une histoire du jardin: Verger et potager à Aix-en-Provence: 1350-1450,” Le Moyen Âge : bulletin mensuel d’histoire et de philologie, 73, 1967, p. 270. Later, the author returned to the subject of gardens when he used a fifteenth-century account of a visit to Aix to detail the geography, composition, and uses of the royal garden. See idem, “Aix-en-Provence, un jardin extraordinaire,” Provence historique, 41, 1991, p. 491-495 and idem, “Jardins et jardiniers du Roi René à Aix,” Annales du Midi : Revue archéologique, historique et philologique de la France méridionale, 102, 1990, p. 275-286.
41 L. Stouff, “Y avait-il à la fin du moyen âge une alimentation et une cuisine provençales originales?”, Manger et boire au Moyen-Âge, Centre d’études médiévales de Nice, 2, 1984, p. 93-99.
42 See E. Herrscher, “Inferring diet by stable isotope analysis: a case study from the French Alps”, in M. Carver and J. Klápšte (eds.), The Archaeology of Medieval Europe, vol. 2: Twelfth to Sixteenth Centuries, Aarhus, Aarhus University Press, 2011, p. 139-146. See also E. Herrscher, H. Bocherens, F. Valentin, and R. Colardelle, “Comportements alimentaires au Moyen Âge à Grenoble : application de la biogeochimie isotopique à la nécropole Saint-Laurent (xiiie-xve siècles, Isère, France)”, Comptes rendus de l’Academie des Sciences, Séries III, Sciences de la vie, 324, 2001, p. 479-487 ; E. Herrscher, F. Valentin, H. Bocherens, and R. Colardelle, “Les squelettes de Saint-Laurent de Grenoble, des témoins de l’alimentation et de la santé au moyen âge (xiiie-xve siècles. France)”, in F. Audoin Rouzeau and F. Sabban (eds.), Un aliment sain dans un corps sain. Perspectives historiques, 2e Colloque de l’Institut européen d’histoire et des cultures de l’alimentation (décembre 2002), Tours, Presses Universitaires François Rabelais, 2007, p. 123–138.
43 In addition to T. Sclafert, Culture, and N. Coulet, “Notes sur l’élevage” and “Sources et aspects de l’histoire de la transhumance,” I point the reader to the works of P. Coste, a student of Georges Duby, who completed his thesis in 1967 on Les registres des Pasquiers de l’année 1345 and went on to publish two articles of note: P. Coste, “La vie pastorale en Provence au milieu du xive siècle,” Études Rurales, 1972, p. 61-75 ; and “L’origine de la transhumance en Provence : Enseignements d’une enquête sur les pâturages comtaux de 1345,” L’élevage en Méditerranée occidentale, Paris, 1977, p. 113-119. See also two unpublished MA theses: J.-L. Leydet, La transhumance dans le pays d’Aix d’après les registres des notaires aixois de la deuxième moitié du xvie siècle, mémoire de maitrise, Aix-en-Provence, 1982 ; and S. Besson, La transhumance en Provence au début du xvie siècle, d’après les registres du péage de Castellane, mémoire de maitrise, Aix-en-Provence, 1977. Finally, in general, Constance Berman has devoted significant scholarly attention to sheep herds in Cistercian communities. See C. Berman, Medieval Agriculture, the Southern French Countryside, and the Early Cistercians. A Study of Forty-three Monasteries, Philadelphia, The American Philosophical Society, 1986. Older studies on southern shepherding and transhumance include: H. Cavailles, La Vie pastorale et agricole dans les Pyrénées des Gaves, de l’Ardour et des Nestes, Paris, Université de Paris, 1931 ; M. Sorre, “Études sur la transhumance dans la région montpelliéraine,” Société languedocienne de géographie, Bulletin, 35, 1912, p. 1-40 ; J. Bousquet, “Les Origines de la transhumance en Rouergue,” L’Aubrac : Études ethnologique, linguistique, agronomique et économique d’un établissement humain, Paris, C.N.R.S., 1971, vol. 2, p. 217-255.
44 N. Coulet, “Notes sur l’élevage en Haute-Provence...,” p. 262.
45 All of these questions are taken up by a single, productive young scholar of environmental history, Timothy P. Newfield. See his “Human-Bovine Plagues in the Early Middle Ages,” Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 46, 2015, p. 1-38 ; “Domesticates, Disease and Climate in Early Post-Classical Europe: The Cattle Plague of c.940 and its Environmental Context,” Postclassical Archaeologies, 5, 2015, p. 95-126 ; “Epizootics and the Consumption of Diseased Meat in the Middle Ages,” Religione e Istituzioni Religiose Nell’Economia Europea. 1000-1800, Firenze University Press, Firenze, 2012, p. 619-639 ; “A Great Carolingian Panzootic: The Probable Extent, Diagnosis and Impact of an Early Ninth-Century Cattle Pestilence,” Argos, 46, 2012, p. 200-210 ; “Early Medieval Epizootics and Landscapes of Disease: The Origins and Triggers of European Livestock Pestilences, 400-1000 CE,” Landscapes and Societies in Medieval Europe East of the Elbe, Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, Toronto, 2013, p. 73-113 ; “A Cattle Panzootic in Early Fourteenth-Century Europe,” Agricultural History Review, 57, 2009, p. 155-190. For an elaboration of his approach to land and culture, see the edited volume: Landscapes and Societies in Medieval Europe East of the Elbe: Interactions Between Environmental Settings and Cultural Transformations, edited by S. Kleingärtner, T. P. Newfield, S. Rossignol and D. Wehner, Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, Toronto, 2013. For Provence, the question of shortages, famine in particular, has been touched upon in at least one collection of essays. See the studies gathered together in Les disettes dans la conjoncture de 1300 en Mediterranée occidentale, ed. M. Bourin, J. Drendel, and F. Menant, Rome, École française de Rome, 2011 (Collection de l’École française de Rome 450), in particular the essay by J. Drendel, “Les disettes en Provence”, op. cit., p. 264-275.
46 H. Bresc, “Pêche et habitat en méditerranée occidentale,” Castrum, 7, 2001, p. 525-539 and “Pêche et coraillage aux derniers siècles du moyen âge : Sicile et Provence orientale,” L’Exploitation de la mer de l’Antiquité à nos jours, Valbonne: Ves Rencontres internationales d’archéologie et d’histoire d’Antibes, 1985, p. 107-116.
47 H. Bresc, “Pêche et habitat,” p. 527.
48 See G. Castel, “La bourdigue de Berre: le procès entre la ville de Berre et les Dominicains de Saint-Maximin du XVe au XVIIIe siècle,” Provence historique, 55, 219, 2005, p. 81-98. The author examines over three and a half centuries of litigation around access to the bourdigue, an enclosure on the edge of the sea used to trap fish at low tide. It highlights the jurisdictional dispute surrounding access to aquatic resources. Only the first five pages, however, deal with the Middle Ages, and work remains to be done to situate the contest at Berre more broadly, legally, culturally, and environmentally. Also of note to those interested in the legal contests surrounding fishing rights in this general region, see the early but comprehensive study of a protracted dispute reported in R. Aubenas, “Le droit de pêche de l’abbaye de Lérins,” Equipe des Historiens Cannois, fasc. no. 2. Cannes, 1953. Aubenas demonstrated how the Cistercian monks of the island monastery of Lérins, one mile offshore of Cannes, were in constant tension with the locals, technically their subjects, over fishing rights.
49 On the consumption of fish by religious communities, consult these two works: Y. Grava, “Notes martégales sur le ravitaillement et la consommation du poisson à la cour pontificale d’Avignon au cours du xive siècle”, in D. Menjot (ed.), Manger et boire au Moyen Âge. Actes du colloque de Nice (15-17 octobre 1982), Publications de la Faculté des lettres et sciences humaines de Nice, nos. 27-28, 1ére série, Paris, Belles lettres, 1984, p. 153-170 ; and in the same collection of essays, P.-A. Amargier, “Notes sur l’ichtyophagie des serviteurs de Dieu en Provence au Moyen Âge”, op. cit., p. 313-323. On the culture of fishermen, see: Y. Grava, “Marchands, pêcheurs et gens de mer sur les bords de l’Étang de Berre à la fin du Moyen Âge”, Navigation et gens de mer en Méditerranée de la Préhistoire à nos jours. Actes de la table ronde du GIS « Sciences humaines sur l’aire méditerranéenne » (Collioure, septembre 1979), Paris, CNRS, 1980 (Maison de la Meditérranée. Cahiers, 3), p. 45-58 ; A. Sportiello, Les pêcheurs du vieux-port : fêtes et traditions de la communauté des pêcheurs de Saint-Jean, Marseille, J. Laffitte, 1981. Finally, another study of the nearby Camargue contributes to our general understanding of medieval fishing in this region. See P. Amargier, “La pêche en Petite Camargue au xive siècle,” Bulletin Philologique et Historique (jusqu’à 1610) du Comité des Travaux Historiques et Scientifiques, 99e Congrès des Sociétés savantes, Tours, 1968, vol. 1: Les Problèmes de l’alimentation, Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, 1971, p. 331-346.
50 The Durance was early the object of historical analysis by local scholars. For a comprehensive and still largely accurate and useful, if somewhat quaint, summary, see the extensive article spanning six issues of the Annales des Basses-Alpes. This work first appeared as L. Pelloux, “La Durance,” Annales des Basses-Alpes. Bulletin de la Société scientifique et littéraire des Bases-Alpes, t. VIII, nos. 64 to 71, 1897-1898. It subsequently appeared as a monograph: L. Pelloux, La Durance et ses affluents, agriculture, industrie, alimentation, Aix-en-Provence, Bibliothèque Méjanes, 1899. I cite the article from the Annales edition here ; while its text is similar to the monograph of 1899, the pagination differs.
51 For a physical description of the evolution of the Durance, see M. Jorda, et al., “Évolution de l’hydrosystème durancien (Alpes du Sud, France) depuis la fin du Pléniglaciaire supérieur”, Les fleuves ont une histoire. Paléo‑environnement des rivières et des lacs français depuis 15 000 ans, eds. J.-P. Bravard, and M. Magny, Paris, Errance, 2002, p. 239-249. The Rhône itself is also the subject of several noteworthy non-historical studies that may be of interest to environmental historians, two of which rely on paleohydrological approaches and are contained in the same collection of essays. See M. Provansal, et al. “Paléohydrologie holocène dans la basse vallée du Rhône, d’Orange à la mer,” Les fleuves ont une histoire. Paléo‑environnement des rivières et des lacs français depuis 15 000 ans, eds. J.-P. Bravard and M. Magny, Paris, Errance, 2002, p. 251‑258 ; and H. Bruneton, et al. “Relations entre paléohydrologie et morphogenèse holocènes des petits et moyens bassins-versants en basse Provence et Languedoc oriental,” op. cit, p. 259 - 268. See as well J.‑P. Bravard, “Approches du changement fluvial dans le bassin du Rhône (xive-xixe siècles), Pour une histoire de l’environnement, C. Beck and R. Delort, Paris, CNRS, 1993, p. 97‑103. The primary historical study of the medieval Rhône remains J. Rossiaud, Le Rhône au Moyen Âge : histoire et représentations d’un fleuve européen, Paris, Aubier, 2007 (Collection historique).
52 “Les Grecs Marseillais […] était en communication par le Rhône et la Durance, au moyen de pontons ou petits bateaux plats très légers, pareils à ceux dont se servaient les Ligures-Salyens […] les Utriculaires, dit Ch. Lenthéric, se servaient de radeaux de formes et de dimensions diverses, qui étaient soulevés par des outres, de manière à ne déplacer qu’une tranche d’eau insignifiante […] Les Romains conservèrent et améliorèrent ce mode de transport.” Pelloux, op. cit., p. 316-317.
53 The original charter is located in the Cartulaire de Saint-Victor de Marseille, n°686. Editions are easy to come by online and in print. See M. Guérard, Cartulaire de l’abbaye de Saint-Victor de Marseille, vol. 2, Paris, C. Lahure (Collection de cartulaires de France, 9), 1857, 25. The charter is translated into French in Pelloux, op. cit., 348, and alluded to in Jean-Pierre Papon, Histoire générale de Provence, t. II, Paris, Moutard, 1776-1786, p. 513 (though Pelloux misreports its location as t. II p. 153).
54 Arnaud published this decree, dated 21 August 1339. See C. Arnaud, Histoire de la viguerie de Forcalquier, Marseille, Étienne Camoin, 1875, p. 136. The text he replicates reads: “Quod nulla persona audeat cargare seu onerare de blado navigia in ripa Durencie, territorii Manuasce, nisi bladum emptum sit a personis dicti loci de Manuasce, seu castri ejusdem, vela ab aliis extraneis in dicto loco, et sub pena centum librarum pro qualibet persona et vice qualibet qua dictum navigium oneraverit.”
55 There is not yet an environmental history of the human reaction to the flooding of the Durance, though one is warranted. For now, Louis Stouff offers inspiration in his consideration of Arles and the perils and challenges posed there by the Rhône. See L. Stouff, “La lutte contre l’eau dans la région du Bas-Rhône à la fin du Moyen-Âge,” Mediterranée, 78, 3, 1993, p. 57-68.
56 On mills, see A. Durand (ed.), Jeux d’eau. Moulins, meuniers et machines hydrauliques, xie-xxe siècle. Études offertes à Georges Comet, Aix-en-Provence, Publications de l’Université de Provence, 2008
57 See, for example, note 63 above.
58 The pre-plague population of Manosque was approximately 5,500 and, while Draguignan’s was about two thousand people less, the towns shared similar features. By the fourteenth century, both were walled and fortified, both depended on local agriculture, and both existed in the same semi-arid Mediterranean climate zone with almost identical annual rates of precipitation.
59 J. Freeman, “From Riparian Rights to the Public Interest. The Evolution of Water Administration in Draguignan, 1376-1985,” Agricultural History, 61, 1987, p. 1-15. See as well F. Mireur, Le Canal et les irrigations de Draguignan. Notes historiques, Draguignan, C. and A. Latil, 1905. Freeman’s article is useful primarily because of the lack of more scholarly surveys on water rights in late medieval Provence. Though Freeman obtained a PhD on French Humanism and politics under François i in 1969 from the University of Michigan, he spent much of his publishing career as an eminent U.S. horticulturalist. The limitation of his study of Draguignan is that it does not make use of primary sources and relies on reports of them from other secondary authors.
60 J. Freeman, op. cit. n. 20, 3. He cites a local nineteenth-century newspaper article as evidence: C. Reboul, “Notice historique sur le canal de dérivation des eaux de la Nartuby a Draguignan,” Le Var. Journal politique, administratif, agricole, industriel et commercial (1 August 1872).
61 Ibid., 3.
62 Ibid., 4.
63 The Hospital renounced its right to change the course of the Drouille and Conchettes streams in a series of concessions reached between the municipal inhabitants, represented by syndics, and the Hospital. The full text of the concessions is available in M.-Z. Isnard, Livre des privileges de Manosque. Cartulaire municipal Latin-Provençal (1169-1315), Digne, Henri Champion, 1894, 94. Isnard has added the rubric Prima petition sindicorum: de aqua rivorum. The text then reads, “In primis dicti syndici […] dicebant et proponebant et asserebant […] quod cursus seu fluxus rivorum, scilicet rivi de Drollia et rivi de Conchetis, nemo debeat deviare, vel impedire seu disturbare, ab orto comitali inferius usque ad salices Raymondorum [ad prata Combalia].”
64 F. Reynaud, op. cit., p. 147.
65 Ibid., p. 127-128.
66 ADDBDR 56 H 993 fol. 73-74v.
67 This inquest record is badly damaged but preserved in 56 H 1005, book 2, fol. 26v-28v.
68 This map appears in F. Reynaud, La commanderie de l’hôpital Saint Jean de Jérusalem, de Rhodes et de Malte à Manosque, Aix-en-Provence, Société d’études des Hautes-Alpes, 1981, and was modified to reflect ecological features by T. Chamilliard, “Arboriculture and the Environment in Manosque, 1341-1404,” MA Thesis, University of Waterloo 2010, p. 98. I use the modified version with his permission.
69 From adaquare, meaning a small irrigation canal.
70 This is surely a scribal error for what should be the singular solebat.
71 Literally, “you are lying through teeth.”
72 Here the Latin varletas mirrors the French valet, litterally “lacky.” Similarly, the Latinized “cuncugat” is as the French conchier, literally “smeared with one’s own excrement.”
73 Literally, “a fistful of mud.”
74 Literally, “in a muddy gutter.”
75 Meaning something like, “Oh, go burn” or “Oh, go to hell.”Haut de page
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Steven Bednarski, « Changing Landscapes: A Call for Renewed Approaches to Social History, Natural Environment,and Historical Climate in Late Medieval Provence », Memini [En ligne], 19-20 | 2016, mis en ligne le 31 décembre 2016, consulté le 22 mars 2017. URL : http://memini.revues.org/855 ; DOI : 10.4000/memini.855Haut de page
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