Man and nature in the Middle Ages

In the Middle Ages, the population depended entirely on the natural and climatic conditions. The peculiarities of nature prompted which dwellings and settlements should be built, which transport – water or land – to use, which tools to produce. From the landscape and climate depended even the character of the man himself.

Medieval Europe was covered with dense forests. Without them, a person would be helpless. The forest provided it with wood, fed honey to wild bees, game, berries, mushrooms, etc. In the forest or in the field peeled from it, the peasant found food for his livestock. Skins and furs of forest animals protected the human body in the cold season or in bad weather, served him as a bed. The forest was not deserted. Monks-hermits, wandering knights, robbers, those who did not get along with justice, etc., found shelter in it. At the same time, for some, the forest was a reliable shelter, for others – a dangerous place, where it is better not to go


An important role in the life of a medieval man was played by the landscape. So, the flat landscape prompted the construction of villages, cut – small farms. Castles and fortresses grew on the hills. Rivers, especially deep-water ones, served as borders between states and estates.

Exits to the seas and oceans, convenient bays, a network of deep-water rivers favored the development of navigation, fishing, trade and communication between countries.

The population of Europe by its economic activities has changed the environment, and not always for the better. The Europeans were careless masters. They irrevocably cut down forests and bushes under arable land, drained swamps, uneconomically used natural resources, not caring about their replenishment. Nature punished them for such negligence by the shallowing of water bodies, the destruction and weathering of soils, the impoverishment of the plant and animal world.

Part of the blame for medieval European mismanagement historians place on the Christian religion, which taught people to be indifferent to nature. Christianity proclaimed man

a king of nature, the king, as a man imagined, should not stand on ceremony with nature.

In the East, medieval people took care of the natural environment and, therefore, caused less damage to nature, lived in harmony with it. This was promoted by the fact that the Eastern religions proclaimed man not a tsar of nature, but a part of it. They forbade harming any living beings.

Landscape – local features of the earth’s surface, reservoirs, soil and vegetation cover.

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Man and nature in the Middle Ages