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History of the Alps, 1500-1900: Environment, Development, and Society

By: Jon Mathieu(Author), Matthew Vester(Translated by)

284 pages, b/w illustrations

West Virginia University Press

Paperback | Apr 2009 | #233310 | ISBN-13: 9781933202341
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £37.95 $49/€43 approx
Hardback | Apr 2009 | #233311 | ISBN-13: 9781933202419
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £95.95 $125/€109 approx

About this book

In the 1700s, Jean-Jacques Rousseau celebrated the Alps as the quintessence of the triumph of nature over the "horrors" of civilization. Now available in English, History of the Alps, 1500-1900: Environment, Development, and Society provides a precise history of one of the greatest mountain range systems in the world. Jon Mathieu's work disproves a number of commonly held notions about the Alps, positioning them as neither an inversion of lowland society nor a world apart with respect to Europe. Mathieu's broad historical portrait addresses both the economic and sociopolitical – exploring the relationship between population levels, development, and the Alpine environment, as well as the complex links between agrarian structure, society, and the development of modern civilization. More detailed analysis examines the relationship between various agrarian structures and shifting political configurations, several aspects of family history between the late Middle Ages and the turn of the twentieth century, and exploration of the Savoy, Grisons, and Carinthia regions.

" [...] Mathieu has done Alpine studies an immense service, collecting an expansive body of research long divided along national, linguistic, and disciplinary lines. As Mathieu accurately states, 'Quantitative history is sorely missing from Alpine research,' and this slim volume provides a very valuable resource for scholars who wish to redress this lacuna."
– Lee W. Holt, H-Net Reviews

"Mathieu's book demolishes widespread cliches about the Alps, which seek to portray the Alpine region as the complete reversal of society in lowland areas, or as a world segregated from the rest of Europe."
– Commission Internationale pour la Protection des Alpes


    The Alps: A Historical Space?
        Key questions and the state of the research
        The political construction of territory
        Data and collection methods
        Comparing long-term trends
    Agriculture and Alpiculture
        The intensity differential in the Alps
        Cropping frequency and yields
        The intensification of animal husbandry
        . . . and of plant cultivation
        Statistics in the early modern era
        Acceleration of growth
        The slowing of urban growth
        The nineteenth century
    Environment and Development
        An intermediate assessment: differentiated growth
        Relations between the Alps and surrounding areas
        History and ecological models
        Illustrations After p. 134
    Two Agrarian Structures (Nineteenth Century)
        Farming establishments
        Public order and property
        Inheritance law, collective resources
    Territories during the Early Modern Period
        Savoy: the duke, the notables
        The Grisons: communes with subjects
        Carinthia: Lord, peasant, servant
    State Formation and Society
        The European dimension
        Politics as a factor of differentiation
        Rural societies
    History of the Alps from 1500 to 1900
        A summary
        Arguments and outlook

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Jon Mathieu is Professor of History at the University of Lucerne, founding director of the Institute of Alpine History at the University of Lugano (Università della Svizzera Italiana).

Matthew Vester is Associate professor in the Department of History at West Virginia University.

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