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Title: Early Medieval Epizootics and Landscapes of Disease: The Origins and Triggers of European Livestock Pestilences, 400-1000 CE
Author(s): Newfield, Timothy
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Editor(s): Kleingartner, S
Newfield, TP
Rossignol, S
Wehner, D
Citation: Newfield T (2013) Early Medieval Epizootics and Landscapes of Disease: The Origins and Triggers of European Livestock Pestilences, 400-1000 CE. In: Kleingartner S, Newfield T, Rossignol S & Wehner D (eds.) Landscapes and Societies in Medieval Europe East of the Elbe: Interactions Between Environmental Settings and Cultural Transformations. Papers in Medieval Studies, 23. Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, pp. 73-113.
Keywords: Livestock Disease
Early Medieval
Issue Date: 2013
Date Deposited: 15-Apr-2013
Series/Report no.: Papers in Medieval Studies, 23
Abstract: This paper presents the first sustained discussion of early medieval European livestock disease. It surveys the evidence for epizootics and attempts to understand the origins and triggers of major plagues, all of which affected cattle. 'Origins' refers to the geographical source of a pathogen and 'triggers' the factors that allowed the pathogen to irrupt into a previously little- or non-exposed population, causing an outbreak of disease. The paper argues that major plagues of animals in the early Middle Ages originated east of Europe and often irrupted into, and spread through, Europe in specific contexts, following, or in the midst of, events that facilitated a pathogen’s bridging of European and non-European landscapes of disease. These precipitating events are hard to pin down, however. Possible triggers considered here are migrations of peoples, wars, epidemics and food shortages (and the atmospheric anomalies underlying poor harvests). The paper as well investigates whether phenomena of the Carolingian period – an increase in the occurrence of food shortages, the growth of settlements, and the evolution of trade networks in Northern Europe – may account for the notable increase in epizootics a this increase owes partially or wholly to the higher rates of source composition and survival characteristic of Carolingian Europe.
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