Western Civilization Developments in Civilization and Control Term Paper

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Western Civilization

Developments in Civilization and Control of Water Supply in Western Europe until the Seventeenth Century

The idea of who controls water and water supplies is not normally associated with developments within a society. However, because water is such a necessity for survival and the flourishing of a society as a whole, it becomes an important symbol for the status and health of any society. By tracking the development of Western Europe in correlation with the development of irrigation and water control systems, one can see how they are so intimately related. At times, it is the development of society which affects how and who controls that society's water. Other times, it is the inventions and control of the water itself which in turn affects developments in the society as a whole.

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The earliest development within the countryside of Western Europe was seen after Romans swept through the region. The Roman Empire had begun its expansion much earlier, but entered into the Northern territories of Europe in C.E. 9. However, despite major defeats, the Romans finally gained strength in the area had annexed Britain in C.E. 43. What the found in many areas was what they believed as savage ways of living. The Romans had developed much more complex methodologies of channeling and controlling water supplies over the past centuries of power in Italy. When they entered into other parts of the continent, they found the common practice of channeling water through hollow trunks unacceptable for the needs of the Roman soldiers and citizens who had entered into the area. In response, they began building wooden pipes reinforced by iron collars in some regions. They began a series of irrigation channels necessary to properly care for their soldiers in even the farthest reaches of the Empire. This began the diversification and continuing sophistication used in controlling water supplies in Western Europe for the next few centuries.

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Rome eventually fell, and Europe was thrown back into a period of darkness and savagery, in many cases not developing any further in centuries. As the Medieval ages flourished, many kingdoms in Western Europe switched to using stone irrigation systems and aqueducts, just as their former conquerors the Romans had done in Italy. This was also combined with the use of traditional wooden pipes. However, those who lived in early urban centers were still forced to get their water from local mountains and cisterns. This was a huge disadvantage in the age of long sieges and constant threats from rival kings and lords. Warfare in Medieval periods mainly consisted of small kingdoms battling each other for land and resources. What resulted was siege warfare. In a siege, a foreign army would surround the castle of a city or town and barrage the large castle walls until either they fell, the citizens surrendered based on starvation, or were beaten off. When a city was under siege from a rival nation, it was unable to fully support its citizen's thirst due to a lack of infrastructure which would have brought water to the city without leaving city walls to fetch water from the mountains. If a town was lucky enough to have a cistern, it would be connected to the local water source by above ground water channels, which were another obvious threat during sieges and long periods of war. The need to protect citizens led to further development of controlling water supplies. As kingdoms began to unite and create larger nations, the face of war changed throughout the fields of Europe.

The fifteenth and sixteenth centuries saw the… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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