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Land and Natural Resource Management in Northern France, 1302–1329: The County of Artois Under Countess Mahaut

Abigail P. Dowling, University of California, Santa Barbara, Summer Fellow 2013

My research at Dumbarton Oaks explored the interconnections among literature, politics, economy, and environment as acted out on the landscapes of the park at Hesdin in northern France in the early fourteenth century. Initially, I had planned to devote my time to a study of financial accounts and to use the extensive secondary collection held in the library to provide a wider northern European context for those practices. I originally intended to spend only a little time exploring how agricultural manuals informed the vision of the aristocratic park. But I discovered that medieval herbals were far more important to the park tradition than landscape scholars have previously acknowledged. In the Rare Book Room, I consulted medieval and early modern herbals that helped me to reformulate my dissertation. As a result, my project included a more comprehensive analysis of the medical, literary, and illustrative traditions that informed landscape management as well as an examination of how these traditions changed from the thirteenth to the sixteenth centuries. Furthermore, my research in the library enabled me to nearly complete a chapter of my dissertation that highlights the systematic and synergistic relationship among different natural resources both within and outside of the park walls.

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