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Environment and History

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Environment and History

The Wasting of Wolin: Environmental Factors in the Downfall of a Medieval Baltic Town

John Broich

Environment and History 7(2001): 187-199

This medieval environmental history examines the tenth-century industrial and trade town of Wolin which grew rapidly on an island immediately off the northwestern coast of Poland. It arose in an environment incapable of supporting its population of 8000 - the largest population in the Baltic during the period. Palaeobotanical evidence records the island's large-scale deforestation and the rapid deterioration of its soils. Having outstripped its local natural assets, Wolin quickly became dependent on imported grain, lumber, and industrial resources. By the mid-eleventh century, Wolin could no longer sustain itself, and became too exhausted to repulse, or recover from, sea-borne raids.

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