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Chapter 4 Policing Epizootics Legislation and Administration during Outbreaks of Cattle Plague in Eighteenth-Century Northern Germany as Continuous Crisis Management Dominik Hünniger Epizootics, especially of cattle plague, raged through Europe during the eighteenth century with three peaks in incidence. The first occurred from 1711 to 1717, the second from 1745 to 1757, and the third from 1769 to 1786.1 Their devastating impact on the economy and society can hardly be overrated in the light of estimated mortality rates of between 70 and 90 percent . However, until recently the historiography on veterinary medicine in Germany has concentrated on the development of veterinary services and has been written by practicing veterinarians.2 Unlike the diverse and original research on livestock diseases in modern Africa,3 studies on early modern Germany are rare, and hardly any attempt has been made to reveal the effect various diseases have had on the everyday life of rural populations and the enormous challenge epizootics posed to early modern administrations.4 This chapter aims to shed new light on some aspects of disease control by focusing on changes and continuities in official legislation in times of cattle plague during the eighteenth century. This disease has become synonymous with rinderpest, but because we do not know exactly what the disease was and retrospective diagnoses are historically suspect, I stick Policing Epizootics |  to the contemporary language that described these epizootics as “horned cattle plague” (Hornvieh-Seuche). The main body of sources is sixty-eight so-called police ordinances (Policeyordnungen) that were published from 1682 to 1798 in the Duchies of Schleswig and Holstein, then under the Danish crown. Similar ordinances can be found in many other territories of the Holy Roman Empire (in fact, in most parts of Europe), and many historians of veterinary medicine have examined these documents. However, the majority of veterinarians who have analyzed these ordinances have assumed that they reflect reliable facts about actual events. Here, I am arguing for a more careful reading of these sources because these ordinances reveal only government intentions as how to deal with an epidemic at a legislative level. In practice, the reactions of local administrations were shaped by a less rigorous approach to disease control, as Jutta Nowosadtko has recently pointed out.5 Reflecting upon recent research on police ordinances and state-formation processes, which stresses the contested nature of early modern legislation and administration, I will ask how different groups of actors shaped these ordinances in a communicative process. As a short summary of this research, I want to highlight three aspects that are particularly important for my work. First, administrative action was always concerned with local circumstances and the special needs of dominant social groups. Laws and regulations had to be adjusted to meet the demands of everyday life. Regulations may have been formulated as general and universal, but people assumed that these rules would be open to adjustment in special circumstances and individual cases. Hence, law and practice were part of a circular process; this fact is not so much interesting in terms of the difference between legislative claims and actual (non-) compliance as it is in the way in which different social groups negotiated these regulations and for what reasons.6 Second, state formation in the early modern period was not a process of simple, straightforward modernization but rather a continuous one with many ruptures and idiosyncrasies, a process in which authorities and subjects , center and periphery, court and province had to negotiate the extent and limitations of power.7 Power in early modern times was directed at acceptance; and territorial and local authorities, as well as other corporate bodies and certain individuals, collaborated closely. Generally, all parties involved aimed for consensus but did not avoid conflicts when their livelihoods or interests were at stake.8 Finally, early modern political language was a “language of legitimisation ”9 that justified its aims according to generally accepted values. In this respect, although negotiation was almost always at play, it rarely happened  | Dominik Hünniger between equals, and power was, of course, distributed unevenly. However, individuals were always involved in acts of persuasion when they wanted to exercise political power. According to Michael Braddick, “These acts of persuasion are best observed in micro-historical contexts—the face-toface situations in which claims to political power are actually asserted and tested. . . . In face-to-face situations the claim to political power is not usually imposed by force, but is negotiated.”10 In accordance with these lines...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780821443101
Related ISBN
9780821418857
MARC Record
OCLC
681350866
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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