Alpine Ökonomie in Hoch- und Tieflagen – das Beispiel Tirol im Spätmittelalter und in Früher Neuzeit (2019)
The authors examine the widely held assumption according to which the highland regions of the Alps were the preserve of animal husbandry, whereas the valleys and the lower districts were used for agriculture. They further ask for documentary proof of the thesis that the crop output per acre decreased with growing altitude. It is shown that a strict separation between areas of livestock holding and of plant production can hardly be identified in ancient Tyrol’s sources. Mixed farms were the rule, independent of their geographic position, left aside extreme heights. Also, evidence of decreasing returns to land with growing altitude is more than mixed. Prevailing ideas about an economic self-sufficiency of alpine regions are firmly refuted. Networks of exchange between the valleys and the uplands, of economic, social and cultural nature, are underlined and exemplified.