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Mais où sont les tourbières d'antan? Géographie, chronologie et stratégies économiques du tourbage en Flandre maritime (12e-16e siècles)
Soens, T.; Thoen, E. (2009). Mais où sont les tourbières d'antan? Géographie, chronologie et stratégies économiques du tourbage en Flandre maritime (12e-16e siècles), in: Histoire économique et sociale de la tourbe et des tourbières . Aestuaria. Histoire et Terres Humides, 14: pp. 45-60
In: Derex, J.-M.; Grégoire, F. (Ed.) (2009). Histoire économique et sociale de la tourbe et des tourbières. Aestuaria. Histoire et Terres Humides, 14. Estuarium/GHZH: Cordemais . ISBN 978-2-9528512-6-8. 313 pp., more
In: Aestuaria. Histoire et Terres Humides. Estuarium: Cordemais; Vincennes. ISSN 1958-0770, more

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Keywords
Author keywords
    Medieval history; rural economy; rural landscape

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Abstract
    The almost complete disappearance of the peat fens and bogs which had covered large parts of the Flemish Coastal Plain until the end of the Middle Ages, cannot be explained without taking into account the structural transition of the region's rural economy in this period. From the 12th to the 14th century, peat digging was an important source of seasonal (proto-industrial) by-employment for the many peasant smallholders in this area. At the same time peat became the main fuel source for the booming urban economies of Flanders. As a consequence, historical evidence on peat exploitation in medieval Flanders is very abundant and it can be used to reconstruct- approximately - the extent of the Flemish medieval peat bogs, even in areas where peat has by now completely disappeared. From the end of tbe 14th century, the peat industry began to decline and so did peasant smallholdership in coastal Flanders. As peasant small holders lost an important source of income due to this decline of the peat industry, and as the decline of peasant smallholdership deprived the peat industry from an inexpensive source of Labour, both evolutions were clearly interconnected.

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