Energyscapes: a seventeenth-century city

Future Works

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The energy provided by wind and water was essential to all members of local communities in the past. Everyone had an interest and a shared responsibility to ensure that watermills and windmills were maintained. This image is an early prospect of the City of Exeter, published in 1617 in the sixth volume of Civitates orbis terrarum by Georg Braun and Franz Hogenberg. It depicts the network of watermills located beyond the city walls, in celebration perhaps of the technical control of nature achieved by altering the flow of the water through the landscape. In other words it represents an early ‘energyscape’ bringing power and sustenance to the early modern city. Images like this are important for inviting us to ponder today the long history of renewable energy sources in the landscape, and to consider how concerns about energy security faced communities in the past just as they do today.

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