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This 1997 book describes the spread of new agricultural practice in the half millennium after 1350, and reconstructs a neglected part of Europe's agricultural past: the introduction of fodder crops, and the continuous reorganisation of traditional botanical inputs within a new system of farming. New agricultural systems, based on convertible husbandry, clovers, turnips and roots, were introduced to some areas of Europe from the 1750s, and gave new impetus to productivity. However this so-called 'agricultural revolution' had demanded a learning process in which recourse to ancient and medieval botany helped farmers and scholars to overcome a situation of stalemate in early modern technology. The Wild and the Sown breaks entirely new ground by showing the distant historical origins of a major transformation in land potential and farm productivity. A vast range of evidence is cited from Italy, France, England and elsewhere to provide a history of the 'agricultural revolution' in Europe.
Foreword Joan Thirsk
1. Translations and classification of the natural environment from the fourteenth to the sixteenth century
2. From medieval agronomy to Renaissance agriculture
3. Lucerne in Italy
4. Forage crops in France: diffusion and retreat
5. Tradition and innovation in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England
6. The new crops and English agriculture
7. From theory to seed production: England and continental Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries
"[...] a most original work of scholarship."
- Eric Jones, American Historical Review