The Garden Guide

Book: History of Garden Design and Gardening
Chapter: Chapter 3: European Gardens (500AD-1850)

Chronology of European Garden Design

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CHAPTER III. Chronological History of Gardening in Continental Europe, from the Time of the Romans To the present Day, or from A. D. 500 to A. D. 1832 85.The decline of the Roman Empire commenced with the reign of the emperors. In the ages, Hirschfeld observes, which followed the fall of the republic, the violence committed by several of the emperors, the invasion of the barbarians, and the ferocity introduced by the troubles of the times, extinguished a taste for a country life, in proportion as they destroyed the means of enjoying it. So many injuries falling on the best provinces of the Roman empire, one after another, gradually destroyed the countryhouses and gardens. Barbarism triumphed over man and the arts; arms again became the reigning occupation; superstition allied itself to warlike inclinations, and spread over Europe a manner of thinking far removed from the noble simplicity of nature. The mixture of so many different nations in Italy contributed to corrupt the taste; the possessions of the nobles, remaining without defence, were pillaged and razed; and the earth was only cultivated from necessity. Soon afterwards those were considered, the first countries where one convent raised itself beside another. Architecture was only employed in chapels and churches, or on warlike forts and castles. From the establishment of the ecclesiastical government of the popes in the eighth, to the end of the twelfth century, the monks were almost the only class in Europe who occupied themselves in agriculture; many of these, carried away by their zeal, fled from the corruption of the age, and striving to overcome their passions, or to indulge their gloomy humour, or, as Herder observes, to substitute one passion for another, retired into solitary deserts, unhealthy valleys, forests, and mountains; there they laboured with their own hands, and rendered fertile, lands, till then, barren from neglect, or in a state of natural rudeness.