In the UCMS lecture series of the Utrecht Centre for Medieval Studies, Dr Marcelo Cândido da Silva (Universidade São Paulo) will give a lecture on 24 February entitled 'Public Agents and the Famine in Fifth- and Sixth-Century Gaul and Italy.'
The Early Middle Ages were marked by repeated food crises. According to a survey by the German historian Fritz Curschmann (on the basis of histories, annals, chronicles, hagiographies etc.), there are 68 references of food crises between the years 700 and 1100. These texts, however, tell us much more about the response to hunger, than about its circumstance or cause.
The aim of this paper is to analyse the actions of public officials when faced with food crises in Gaul and Italy between the end of the fifth century and the late sixth century. For this purpose, Da Silva shall look at letters by Cassiodorus (d. c. 585) and Sidonius Apollinaris (d. 486), the Histories of Gregory of Tours (d. 594) and a poem by Venantius Fortunatus (d. c. 609).
To stimulate debate, the following reading material is recommended (but not obligatory):
- Marcelo Cândido da Silva, ‘L’ "économie morale" carolingienne (fin VIIIe-début IXe siècle)’, Médiévales 66 (2014), 159-178.
- Jean-Pierre Devroey, ‘Food and Politics’, in: M. Montanari (ed.), A Cultural History of Food in the Medieval Age, 2 (2012, London and New York), pp. 73-89.
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