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Food-growing gardens first appeared in early medieval cities during a period of major social, economic, and political change in the Italian peninsula, and they quickly took on a critical role in city life. Food-producing gardens were essential from an economic point of view but they also played important cultural, religious, and political roles, especially within cities. Cities in early medieval Italy were key places for the performance of power and the display of social capital. This paper charts changing attitudes to urban agriculture between the late Roman and early medieval periods, with attention to how Christianity changed people’s views on flowers, how new regional economies affected what people ate, and how people in medieval Italy viewed gardens and gardening. 

Caroline Goodson is Professor of Early Medieval History at King’s College, Cambridge. Focusing on the period between c 500 and c 1100, her research concentrates on the nature of power in the early medieval world in the Western Mediterranean and, in particular, Italy. Taking a transdisciplinary approach, moving between history and archaeology, she studies how different groups positioned themselves as successors to the Romans’ past glories or as innovators in a new world order. She has published extensively, her most recent work being Cultivating the City in Early Medieval Italy on which her paper will draw.

All welcome- this seminar is free to attend but booking is required.