Medieval Round Table: The Nature of Extraction in Preindustrial Europe

Guy Geltner will be presenting at The University of Melbourne’s Medieval Round Table discussion group on 6 February 2023. The Round Table is an informal forum that meets monthly, usually on the first Monday of the month, to discuss works in progress. It is open to all interested scholars and students.

When: 6:15pm local time (Melbourne Australia)

Where: University of Melbourne, Melbourne Australia OR Zoom

Further details via The University of Melbourne Medieval Roundtable Page.

Image: Altarpiece of St. Anne’s Church, Annaberg-Buchholz (Germany), c. 1521

The Nature of Extraction in Preindustrial Europe:

As mining burgeoned across Europe from the thirteenth century on, the sector’s promoters and observers had to contend with resource management in a new key.  Ore extraction differed in scale and scope from traditional practices of agriculture and animal husbandry.  It was also more visibly destructive and by many accounts impacted the health of people, animals, soils and crops.  This paper begins by exploring such emic accounts and how they differ from present-day ecological and biochemical explanations.  It then moves to ask whether the era’s documented cultural responses to mining-related landscape change amount to an environmental turn or a secularization of Creation, a phenomenon scholars tend to associate with modernization?  As this paper will argue, tracing early mining history can be inspired by environmental history while challenging some of its conventions.

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