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A Forest on the Sea

Environmental Expertise in Renaissance Venice

Karl Appuhn

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Winner, Herbert Baxter Adams Prize, American Historical Association

Winner, Charles A. Weyerhaeuser Award, the Forest History Society

Wood was essential to the survival of the Venetian Republic. To build its great naval and merchant ships, maintain its extensive levee system, construct buildings, fuel industries, and heat homes, Venice needed access to large quantities of oak and beech timber. The island city itself was devoid of any forests, so the state turned to its mainland holdings for this vital resource. A Forest on the Sea explores the history of this enterprise and Venice’s efforts to…

Winner, Herbert Baxter Adams Prize, American Historical Association

Winner, Charles A. Weyerhaeuser Award, the Forest History Society

Wood was essential to the survival of the Venetian Republic. To build its great naval and merchant ships, maintain its extensive levee system, construct buildings, fuel industries, and heat homes, Venice needed access to large quantities of oak and beech timber. The island city itself was devoid of any forests, so the state turned to its mainland holdings for this vital resource. A Forest on the Sea explores the history of this enterprise and Venice’s efforts to extend state control over its natural resources.

Karl Appuhn explains how Venice went from an isolated city completely dependent on foreign suppliers for wood to a regional state with a sophisticated system of administering and preserving forests. Intent on conserving this invaluable resource, Venice employed specialized experts to manage its forests. The state bureaucracy supervised this work, developing a philosophy about the environment—namely, a mutual dependence between humans and the natural world—that was far ahead of its time. Its efforts kept many large forest preserves under state protection, some of which still stand today.

A Forest on the Sea offers a completely novel perspective on how Renaissance Europeans thought about the natural world. It sheds new light on how cultural conceptions about nature influenced political policies for resource conservation and land management in Venice.

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A Forest on the Sea

Karl Appuhn

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Reviews

Reviews

A useful work for upper-level students doing in-depth research.

The work of Karl Appuhn, based on extensive archival research and rich technical insights, offers a major study devoted to the social, economic, administrative, and political aspects of Venetian forest management.

Magisterial.

A wonderful study of Venetian politics, natural knowledge, resource management, and bureaucratic development.

With this splendid and painstakingly researched volume, Appuhn is sure to inspire others to the view that nature is to be honored and respected, managed if necessary, but not merely there for human taking.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
376
ISBN
9780801892615
Illustration Description
9 halftones, 3 line drawings, 1 map
Table of Contents

List of Tables and Figures
Acknowledgments
Note on Dates
Introduction
States, Economies, and Nature
Chronology
1. Forest Exploitation before the Venetian Conquest
Venetian Demand for Forest Products
Regional

List of Tables and Figures
Acknowledgments
Note on Dates
Introduction
States, Economies, and Nature
Chronology
1. Forest Exploitation before the Venetian Conquest
Venetian Demand for Forest Products
Regional Forest Ecologies and the Venetian Timber Supply
Local Practices of Forest Exploitation and Venetian Shortages
Perceived Shortages and the Emergence of the Market Hierarchy
2. The Venetian Discovery of Mainland Forests
Water Management and Venetian Interpretations of Mainland Landscapes
Local Property Rights and the Limits of Venetian Power to Preserve Forests
The Failure of Market Regulations
3. Venetian Forestry Laws and the Creation of Public Forest Reserves
The Creation of the Boschi Pubblici
The 1476 Forestry Laws and the Hierarchy of Forest Utilization
The Cambrai Crisis, Fiscal Reform, and the Expansion of the State Reserves
The Expansion of Forestry Legislation and Its Consequences
4. The Venetian Forest Bureaucracy
A Divided Bureaucracy
A New Role for the Provveditori alle Legne
Sixteenth-Century Forest Surveys
Harvests, Local Resistance, and Perceptions of Scarcity
The Catastico Garzoni and the Knowledge Gap
5. The Preservation and Reproduction of BureaucraticKnowledge
Venetian Bureaucratic Expertise
The Cadastral Surveys and the Preservation of Collective Knowledge
The Cadastral Surveys as Natural Historical Narrative
Topographical Maps and the Reproduction of Knowledge
6. Nature's Republic or Republican Nature?
Peak Demand and Peak Anxiety in Eighteenth-CenturyVenice
Institutional Reform and the Res Publica of Forests
The Venetian Moral Economy of Nature
Venetian Discourses in a European Context
Conclusion
The Three Trials of Pietro Gavardo
Finding Meaning in the Forest
Appendix
Notes
Glossary
Bibliography

Author Bio
Featured Contributor

Karl Appuhn

Karl Appuhn is an assistant professor of history and environmental studies at New York University.