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Abstract

Medieval urban environmental history lies at the intersection of environmental history, urban history, and the history of public health. For many years, medieval towns were thought to be universally foul and filthy, a stereotype that remains common in both academic and popular histories. Since the 1920s, however, historians who work closely with the documentary evidence have challenged such a one-dimensional characterization. A growing body evidence from urban archaeological sites has created the potential for a more integrated, interdisciplinary approach to the study of urban ecosystems and waste management. Recent environmental scholarship has also focused on ‘urban footprints’ (the impact of cities on their supply hinterlands) and on the social construction of medieval attitudes to hygiene.