Straws in the Wind: Medieval Urban Environmental Law--The Case of Northern Italy

Straws in the Wind: Medieval Urban Environmental Law--The Case of Northern Italy

Straws in the Wind: Medieval Urban Environmental Law--The Case of Northern Italy

Straws in the Wind: Medieval Urban Environmental Law--The Case of Northern Italy

Synopsis

The quest to create a decent world, to maintain a clean environment, and to nurture a self-renewing inheritance to pass on to future generations is not unique to the twentieth-century. Rather, as Ronald Zupko and Robert Laures show in this fascinating study of medieval environmental attitudes and regulations, it has been the recurring dream of men and women for centuries. The history of the medieval towns of northern and central Italy opens a window onto the concerns of urban elites throughout the medieval world regarding the environment and quality of life. In Straws in the Wind, the authors demonstrate that legislative efforts to control the environment were neither haphazard nor accidental. Rather, they were rational responses to perceived needs, often based on a valuable store of knowledge inherited from their Roman forebears. Zupko and Laures describe who these early environmentalists were, what motivated them, how they shaped the environmental programs they devised, and how they implemented and enforced these regulations. The book examines the efforts of town officials, often acting independently of powerful regional, papal, and imperial authorities, to provide their citizens with the best possible urban quality of life- within the limits of their knowledge, experience, and technology. Moreover, Zupko and Laures reveal evidence of grassroots support for the protection of resources and for the preservation of air, water, and the aesthetic qualities of the urban environment. The results of these efforts, when compared to those of the modern environmental movement, were very modest, merely "Straws in the Wind." Nonetheless, they were the harbingers of the future.

Excerpt

The environmental activists of the early 1960s and 1970s joyfully proclaimed to the world their love of the earth and the environment. Television screens were filled with the brilliantly colored images of happy, smiling young people in exotic dress and long flowing hair proclaiming their oneness with creation and their devotion to peace and love. They were vital, energetic, and positive -- a driving engine for environmental change and a hallmark of the era.

The final decade of the twentieth century stands witness to a more mature environmental movement, perhaps less flamboyant, but certainly more purposeful. the contemporary desire for clean air and water, for the protection of limited resources, and for the renewal of endangered flora and fauna is often depicted as a modern phenomenon, the product of the enlightened twentieth century. Environmental awareness is portrayed as a thoroughly modern movement, arising out of the tumult of a half-century of war and depression like some Venus given birth in the crashing surf of a Mediterranean shore.

Is this, however, an accurate assessment of the origins of human concern for the environment and endangered resources? in the present study, we present evidence that human beings have been interested in the quality of the environment for almost as long as there are written records available. Men and women have long deemed it their responsibility to tend to the environment and the world about them. the literature on the subject contains innumerable references to their concern for the earth and to their efforts to produce a suitable quality of life in the context of both rural and urban settings. Their desire to create a dependable agricultural resource base, to preserve plants and animals, to tame the excesses of wild rivers and the effects of tidal flows on coastal lowlands, and to enhance the livability of urban environments are chronicled in the earliest extant examples of secular and sacred literature.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.