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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 2013/14

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 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.

 In the process, I discovered that medieval herbals were far more important to the park tradition than landscape scholars have acknowledged. In Rare Books, I was able to consult medieval and early modern herbals that helped me reformulate my chapter. As a result, I have included a more comprehensive analysis of the medical, literary and illustrative traditions that informed landscape management and how these traditions changed from the thirteenth to sixteenth centuries. Further, my research in the library stacks (conveniently located just outside my office!) enabled me nearly to complete a chapter of my larger dissertation project that highlights the systematic and synergistic relationship among different natural resources both within and outside of the park walls.

 Finally, I benefited from and enjoyed the inspiring locale and the fellowship of a community of scholars just as passionate about the study of gardens and landscapes as I am.  The value of my many discussions with, and generous feedback from, other fellows, interns, and staff is incalculable. 

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