JEG 2002

Jaarboek voor Ecologische Geschiedenis



Steven Vanderputten

Natuurverschijnselen in de middeleeuwse geschiedschrijving: voortekenen of ‘faits divers’?


[Natural phenomena in medieval historiography: predictive signs or faits divers?]

Historical narratives from the medieval period regularly refer to natural phenomena that have shocked or amazed contemporary society. Although modern scholars have repeatedly tested the accuracy of these reports, it remains unclear why historiographers felt the need to describe this type of events. The consensus among scholars would be that their presence in historiography was closely connected to the idea that disruptions of natural order were signals of a non-human nature and that they possessed predictive power. In this article, I argue that the interest for natural events depended on factors that, until now, have rarely been the subject of research, most important of which is the genre in which the historiographers chose to tell their story. This, however, leads to the conclusion that, in most cases, writing about the natural past was little more than a marginal aspect of medieval historical writing.


Elodie Lecuppre-Desjardin

Grote schoonmaak in de stad. De sanering, beveiliging en ruimtelijke inrichting van de stad naar aanleiding van vorstelijke feestelijkheden in de Bourgondische Nederlanden (14e-15e



[A big turn-out of the town. Cleaning up, security and spatial ‘order’ in towns during royal feasts in the Bourgondian Netherlands (14th-15th century)]

During royal feasts in the towns in the Bourgondian Netherlands, the landscape and spatial order of these towns was subject to different acts of ‘cleaning’. The literary tradition of writers of chronicals tells us about a tradition of glamour and splendour. If this image is compared to other types of information, coming out of other types of historical sources with regard to measures concerning the actual clearing and cleaning of the streets and town squares, street repairs, security measurements and the renovation of lordly buildings, the image is nor that glamorous anymore. By such temporary measures on the ‘hygienic’ level, the town council created a temporary illusion of the town, with more importance for the lordly propaganda, than for the actual concern for order and hygiene in these towns.


Pieter-Jan Lachaert

De Makegemse bossen. Een voorbeeld van het nut van de historische geografie voor de hedendaagse ruimtelijk ordening van Vlaanderen


[The Makegem woodlands. An example of me use of historical geography in designing present-day spatial planning in Flanders]

This study analyses to which extend a historian can contribute to the present-day spatial planning in regions with a high natural value. As a case-study we consider the historical woodland-area of Makegem (south of the Flemish city of Ghent). For this area recent spatial development plans have been made that pretend to strengthen not only nature but also the cultural history in the area. The viewpoint in this study is that the history of a landscape is far more complex than the things that can be seen on historical maps of the 19th and 20th century. In order to understand the history of this region one has to recognise that earlier developments took place in the landscape and consider the constantly changing socio-economic structures in the area through the centuries.


Stefaan Blancke

Mens en mensaap in de Verlichting: Edward Tyson en Lord Monboddo


[Man and ape during the Enlightenment: Edward Tyson and Lord Monboddo]

To a large extent the Enlightenment debate about anthropoid apes is a debate about man. The appearance of the anthropoid ape and the cosmology of the ‘chain of life’ inspired some thinkers to determine whether the anthropoid is human or not. In order to answer this question they needed a definition of (hu)man. This article investigates two visions which resulted in two different definitions of the anthropoid ape. According to E. Tyson he belonged to the kingdom of animals, Lord Monboddo

welcomed him as a fellow- man.


Thomas Bostoen

De angst voor het onbekende: de coloradokever zaait paniek in Europa (1870-1914)


[Fear for the unknown: the Colorado potato beetle creates panic in Europe (1870-1914)]

Although the Colorado potato beetle became a plague only after the First World War, it had already upset the European population for a few decades. As from 1870 fear grew that once again agriculture, and potato culture in particular, was threatened. This fear was born out of the disconcerting experiences in the United States. The spectacular stories that appeared in American newspapers quickly spread over Europe. A new famine such as it appeared in the middle of the nineteenth century had to be prevented at all cost. A whole discussion burst forth whether or not the potato beetle could cross the ocean and survive the European weather conditions. It inspired several European Governments to take measures and forbid the import of American potatoes. In spite of those laws the potato beetle was discovered a few times in European potato fields and successfully opposed. In 1914 the Great War began and attention for potato beetle danger faded away. In 1922 the potato beetle started its own Blitzkrieg and conquered every European potato field.


Danielle De Vooght en Theo H. Geerken

(On)duurzaamheidsontwikkelingen van productsystemen, 1800~2000


[(Un-)sustainability developments of production systems: 1800-2000]

This article describes the approach and the preliminary results of a four year (2002 until 2005) multi-disciplinary research project performed by Vito and VUB. The goal of the project is to gain insight in the historical process of (un-) sustainability developments of four basic needs: bread, water, transportation (over land) and heated living space. For six key years (1800, 1850, 1900, 1950, 1975, 2000) social, economical and environmental data are retrieved from a wide range of sources (literature, archives, museums, measurements). Both the production and the consumption phase are considered. An environmental profile of the four product systems will be created through Life Cycle Analysis (LCA). These analyses will make it possible to derive the environmental trends. The relationship between the environmental trends and the social and economical trends will hopefully give us (new) insights in the developments regarding sustainability of the product systems between 1800 and 2000. We might also get a better understanding of the concept of sustainability itself.



Jan J. Boersema, Groen geloof Mark Stoll Reactie op ‘Groen geloof ’

Erik Thoen en Christophe Verbruggen, ‘Wetenschappelijk scepticisme’ of

‘milieunegationisme’? Bedenkingen bij een geruchtmakende publicatie