Pleasing Plants and Worrisome Weeds: Botanical Change in Early Medieval Europe


ACLS Fellowship Program


History, Romance Languages and Literatures, and the Program in the Environment


At the beginning of the middle ages, European people altered their longstanding patterns of engagement with plants. This project evaluates how and why this unusual set of changes occurred. To establish what crops advanced and which ones retreated in early medieval fields, and how this affected weed populations, the project compares two territories in detail: France and Italy from 300 to 800. “Pleasing Plants and Worrisome Weeds” also probes Europeans’ cultural adaptations to the new botanical situations on the ground, exploring the relationship between practical and theoretical botany in early medieval Europe. This project thus contributes to understandings of how people classify and catalogue nature, and why they adopt the classifications they do.