Thursday, August 20, 2009

Writing on the Wall

A Relationship Between the Military and Farming in VI Century Padua

Padua's walls needed to protect the city in military fashion and farmers provided a useful element to that end.

Military tactics and farming's symbiosis:

Enemies could be watched in an "invisible" fashion from Padua's walls that were angled in such a way to render them "hidden" from an enemy's advancing eye. Cannons and hakbuts would be used to quell the forwarding enemy by surprise. A relatively open land area one mile wide was maintained outside of the walls, with a moat placed at its feet and only a few doors constructed to allow access to the city. In this large and empty space, farmers were allowed to grow certain crops as long as the plants did not reach heights of more than one meter (3 ft). Those crops hid trapdoors, sharp rocks and low bundles of wood that made passage dangerous and noisy for invaders who were not extremely careful. The farming solution helped keep the land in a militarily ideal situation of "open" area while not weighing heavily on the government's financial investment which would have otherwise been necessary from constant expenditures due to cleaning, pruning and general land maintenance.

Various cereals were the preferred crops that grew at the feet of the Padua's old walls because of the plants' perfect height and the fact that it also offered basic sustenance to the city's inhabitants. Once harvested the wheat, grain, oats, etc. would be processed in the mills located inside or along the walls. Ponte Molino, which I will feature in the next entry, is evidence of that tradition.

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