IMC 2008: Sessions

Session 1115: The Economic and Cultural Meaning of Waterways

Wednesday 9 July 2008, 11.15-12.45

Moderator/Chair:Sarah Davis-Secord, Department of History, University of Texas, Arlington
Paper 1115-aWalliis et Fossatis: Tending the Waterways in Medieval England
(Language: English)
G. R. Boynton, Department of Political Science, University of Iowa
Index terms: Local History, Politics and Diplomacy
Paper 1115-bRivers and Rhetoric in Medieval Wales
(Language: English)
Barry James Lewis, Centre for Advanced Welsh & Celtic Studies, University of Wales
Index terms: Daily Life, Language and Literature - Celtic, Mentalities, Rhetoric
Paper 1115-cRiver Experience and River Knowledge in Medieval Metz
(Language: English)
Frédéric Ferber, Atelier de Recherche sur les Textes Médiévaux (ARTEM), Université de Nancy II
Index terms: Daily Life, Mentalities, Social History

Paper -a:
Waterways were an important element of the environment in medieval England. They were important for transportation of goods and persons, for food, and for sanitation. Beginning with Edward I, kings used commissions of walliis et fossatis as a principal institution to care for them. In a 2007 paper Galloway and Potts examine the use of the commissions to assess changes in the Thames estuary. This paper will examine the extent of use for the entire country from 1272 through 1450, the geographic spread, and most important the people who served on the commissions.
Paper -b:
Rivers carry a great weight of cultural meaning. In the Middle Ages they were both barriers which marked off the Other and transport corridors which united territories. They provided vital resources—water, fish—and they hindered the medieval traveller’s progress. They were essential participants in the geography of sanctity and politics. All these aspects conditioned the involvement of rivers in the rhetoric of power and powerlessness in medieval Wales. In many spheres, frrom ethnic rivalry on the Anglo-Welsh border to the courtly entertainment of love lyrics, rivers defined and were defined in turn. This paper will examine these processes in medieval Welsh poetry, looking at how physical realities and mental categories interacted in this highly artificial medium.
Paper -c:
In many medieval towns, the river not only constituted an outstanding feature of the urban landscape, but also played an important part in human needs and economic activities. Although they benefited from the river and strove to control this natural element, the inhabitants also had to face its constraints and its threats. This paper aims at showing, through the example of medieval Metz, how the river pertained to people’s daily life. However, according to various professional or personal experiences, it means to determine the different degrees in river perception and knowledge.