Book Series The Medieval Countryside, vol. 23

The Historic Landscape of Catalonia

Landscape History of a Mediterranean Country in the Middle Ages

Jordi Bolòs

  • Pages: 469 p.
  • Size:156 x 234 mm
  • Illustrations:77 b/w
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2023

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-60305-6
  • Hardback
  • Available
  • ISBN: 978-2-503-60326-1
  • E-book
  • Available

An extensive study of the landscape of the Mediterranean country of Catalonia, and how analysis of man-made transformations help us to understand political, social, economic, and cultural changes.


« Un glossaire, une très longue bibliographie et des index, onomastique, topographique et de thèmes, couronnent l’ensemble. Le lecteur qui parcourra la région ou cherchera des informations spécifiques sur un village, un château ou une exploitation minière trouvera indubitablement dans cet ouvrage une réponse à ses questions. » (Adeline Rucquoi, dans Francia-Recensio, 1, 2024)


Jordi Bolòs is professor at the University of Lleida. He is dedicated to the study of the historical landscape of Catalonia. In 2004, he published extensive research on the origins of the Catalan landscape. He has also published ten volumes of an atlas on the counties of Carolingian Catalonia (1998-2018) and a book on the medieval townscape of the city of Lleida (2008). He has also studied the everyday life during the late medieval period.


The landscape around us is largely the result of man-made transformations. It consists of villages, farmsteads, cities, fields, ditches, and roads. This book examines how the landscape of the Mediterranean country of Catalonia was created and transformed. Although Catalonia’s history goes back before the Middle Ages, it was during the medieval period that it saw significant development, which has continued ever since. Understanding the landscape helps us understand political, social, economic, and cultural changes. In this book we discover how the settlements built around a castle or a church were created, and what the open villages and new towns were like, both in Catalonia and in neighbouring territories. The book also explores the formation of cities and towns as well as the significance of hamlets and farmsteads, based on data provided by written documents and archaeological excavations. It also explores the formation of fields, ditches, and irrigated areas, and shows the importance of understanding the boundaries and demarcations that enclose valleys, villages, castles, and parishes. Finally, special attention is devoted to place names and cartography, as these shed light on numerous historical realities.


Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 2: Houses Become a Village: The Villages of the Pyrenees

Chapter 3: Churches, Monasteries, and Villages: In Each Village a Church

Chapter 4: Castles and Castral Villages: The incastellamento of the Landscape

Chapter 5: New Towns and Complex Settlements

Chapter 6: Hamlets and Farmsteads: The Dispersal of the Population

Chapter 7: The Medieval Towns and Cities: The Other Side of the Medieval Landscape

Chapter 8: Cultivated Land: The Relevance of Pre-Medieval Past

Chapter 9: Coombs, Terraces, Concentric Forms, and Land Strips

Chapter 10: Irrigated Land, Rivers, and Lakes

Chapter 11: The Importance of Mills, Iron, and Salt

Chapter 12: Woodland and Pastureland: Changes in Vegetation and Environment

Chapter 13: Roads and Pathways, the Network that Organizes the Landscape

Chapter 14: Boundaries and Territories: A Country Full of Old Borders

Chapter 15: The Importance of Toponymy

Chapter 16: Mapping the Historical Landscape

Conclusion: Studying Historic Landscapes Bridges Gaps Between the Past and the Present


Works Cited

Index of Personal Names

Index of Place Names

Index of Subjects