Waterbeheer in de Vlaamse kustvlakte in de Late Middeleeuwen en het Ancien Régime: van landschapsgeschiedenis naar ecologische geschiedenis
Soens, T.; Thoen, E. (2003). Waterbeheer in de Vlaamse kustvlakte in de Late Middeleeuwen en het Ancien Régime: van landschapsgeschiedenis naar ecologische geschiedenis, in: Soens, T. et al.Tussen politiek, economie en ecologie: waterbeheer in het verleden. Jaarboek voor Ecologische Geschiedenis, 2001: pp. 1-23
This article argues that changes in the historical landscape cannot be studied without a thorough knowledge of the economic and social structures of the area in question. Geographically, it deals with the Flemish coastal plain, and more specifically with Zeeland Flanders adjacent to the river Scheldt, which is studied from the medieval to the early modern period. From the thirteenth century on, this area was particularly troubled by disastrous inundations followed by the loss of land. These inundations cannot be explained by natural phenomena only. A defìcient water management needs to be taken into account as well. From the twelfth century on, water management was the task of specifìc institutions, the 'waterschappen'. Although often praised for the quality of their work, evidence seems to suggest that the water boards' officials were mainly driven by self-interest and not by the overall welfare of the area's inhabitants. This article however, is only a prolegomenon. More research has to be done to explain the evolution of the historical landscape. This is only possible when taking into account the social structuring of the area. In this way the history of the landscape turns into ecological history, concentrating on the multiple relations between man and nature.
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