Jordi Bolòs and the historic environment

I don’t know why my natural subject header seems to read like a bad thriller title, but here’s another one. It is possible that the sidebar still bears witness that recently Professor Jordi Bolòs i Masclans of the Universitat de Lleida found this blog, and took the chance to mention his excellent series of historical atlases of the Catalan counties, of which as I said in reply I already own one. This has however led me to his, not one but seven! blogs. That’s going some. I haven’t been through them all, but they are mostly doing book reviews, for early medieval and later medieval publications and for stuff dealing with methodology in history, settlement archaeology and topography. The publications he notices include many English ones, some of which even I’ve also mentioned, though this is only so much help to you perhaps unless you read Catalan—but I’m impressed by the boundary-crossing.

Cover of Jordi Bolòs's Els origens medievals del paisatge català

Cover of Jordi Bolòs's Els orígens medievals del paisatge català

There are also four blogs concentrating on his actual research, which covers settlement, cartography and medieval archaeology generally (though he also has two charter editions to his credit). Two seem to be running fairly slow. One of these covers the villages that grew up in Catalonia shortly after the year 1000 in which, supposedly as a response to increasing violence and disorder, settlement concentrated in the sacred space of the church’s cemetery, where it was supposedly sacrilege to attack; the Catalan for these settlements is ‘sagreres’, and Prof. Bolòs’s observations on them are confined to two posts in April, so I haven’t linked it in the sidebar. The other considers new-established villages in the territories of expanding high medieval Catalonia, and there’s only three posts in that one. Plus which, I don’t work on that area or that timeframe, but don’t let me stop you, and so on.

The two live wires are rather more my style and interest. The first of these, Cartografia i Història Medieval a Catalunya, is concentrating on topography and cartography: the repeated message is that mapping things really helps you understand them, and the whole subject is one very dear to Prof. Bolòs’s heart. I’ve added two links to particular entries where he’s mapped places I’ve talked about, but again we are looking at Catalan-interest stuff only really, and there is some duplication from the Viles Noves blog. I think it’s pretty interesting, but you may not from outside my field.

The domains of the Benedictine monasteries in Catalonia and the uses of territory (9th to 13th centuries)

The domains of the Benedictine monasteries in Catalonia and the uses of territory (9th to 13th centuries)

The last, however, I bring to your attention a bit more obviously, and this I do because that’s the one that seems to be trying to reach you, the English-language reader. Although it’s got a Catalan name, Arqueologia del Paisatge de Catalunya, and a Catalan focus, it’s currently headed by a big English-language post setting out a manifesto for the preservation of the historic environment. He goes to great lengths to explain what we can learn from the landscape, the patterns of settlement and use it displays, and why it’s necessary, as he sees it, to protect it by legislation from building and destruction by development. This is probably easier in Catalonia than some areas, where there is a flight from the land still very much going on, but even there the population is going up and spreading from the cities. Those people have to go somewhere, and I’m never sure where the line between the material welfare of a large number of people (whom the Earth probably can’t sustain, but who nonetheless exist and have certain human rights to be treated the same and offered equal opportunities) and the preservation of a heritage that, as I’ve argued, helps to make everyone’s lives richer and more, well, comprehending. I may not be sure: Prof. Bolòs has made up his mind, and set out his stand, and I think he would be grateful for others outside his normal reach taking a look.

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