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Doctoral studies > PhD dissertations UAB

Pasqual Bernat López
Agronomia i agrònoms a la Catalunya de la Il·lustració (1768-1821)
Supervisor/s: Agustí Nieto-Galan
Date of defense: 05-09-2006

This thesis studies the agronomic movement in Catalonia during the period of the Enlightenment. A study of the sources mentioned in the bibliography clearly shows the existence of a speech whose core ideas were the promotion and modernisation of agriculture. Starting from this observation, a working hypothesis has been built up which plans to demonstrate that the Catalan agronomic movement of the Enlightenment period, though it possessed certain specific features which gave it its own identity, followed the guidelines of its European counterpart from the institutional, human and also technical point of view.

The work is divided into three parts. The first part studies the general context in which the research is set. The evolution of agronomy in the 16th and 17th century is analysed in the first place both as the most immediate antecedent and also as the starting point of what would take place during the 18th century. Then the core points of the agronomic debate in Europe and Spain during the Enlightenment are described to give a framework to the case of Catalonia.

The second part approaches the central questions of the research: the institutionalisation of agronomy during the Enlightenment in Catalonia. The first chapter is dedicated to the Direcció d’Agricultura (Director of Agriculture ) of the Reial Acadèmia de Ciències Naturals i Arts de Barcelona ( the Royal Academy of Natural Science and Art of barcelona). The second chapter deals with the setting up and early years of l’Escola d’Agricultura i Botànica de la Junta de Comerç (the School of Agriculture and Botany of the Chamber of Commerce of Barcelona).

The third part details and analyses the technical and methodological proposals which the institutions and the studied agronomists advocated. Two major subsections are presented: one talks about the proposals concerning crops and the other deals with technological initiatives. In this part of the work, aspects such as the introduction of new crops, the perfecting of plants such as the vine and strategies for intensive production like fertilisers and agricultural machinery are studied.

The study ends with an analysis of the role of the woods and their exploitation in connection with agricultural activity. This chapter includes a summary of the ideas about the woods which were held during this period and how these ideas became more specific among Catalan agronomists.

The reader will not find many examples to confirm specific work / experiments carried out by the studied agronomists. The aim of this research has been the study of the literature written about agronomy and not the actual carrying out of the projects. Therefore this work focuses on the most theoretical features of the agronomic movement and agriculture in Catalonia in the 18th Century.

What is new about this work is that it clearly shows the existence of a scientific and technological movement which developed parallel to the often studied transformations of the Catalan countryside in the 18th Century. Although this movement was not specific to the Catalan society of the time, it did represent a current of opinion and a desire to transform within the budgets of scientific and technical renovation. Subjects like the teaching of agriculture, the invention of new agricultural machinery, new methods of farming or the fight to prevent plant diseases are some of the things that the reader will find in the pages of this work.