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Title: The 1581 catastrophe or the story of two poor families’ affliction
Other Titles: Celebratio Amicitiae : essays in honour of Giovanni Bonello
Authors: Mercieca, Simon
Keywords: Malta -- History -- Knights of Malta, 1530-1798
Natural disasters -- Malta
Floods -- Malta
Issue Date: 2006
Publisher: Fondazzjoni Patrimonju Malti
Citation: Mercieca, S. (2006). The 1581 catastrophe or the story of two poor families’ affliction. In M. Camilleri & T. Vella (Eds.), Celebratio Amicitiae : essays in honour of Giovanni Bonello (pp. 11-19). Valletta : Fondazzjoni Patrimonju Malti.
Abstract: Max Weber's idea of a motionless historical evolution led to the development, in America, of what has been called the 'up-streaming' theory. The word 'up-streaming' was coined by the historian of Native Americans, William Fenton, l to refer to the interpretation of past histories that lacked complete historical records. By using very recent evidence and empirical observation, a historian could attempt to reconstruct the historical background I of remote and obscure past events. The idea behind this theory rests on three premises, namely that: 1. Major cultural patterns are often stable over long periods; 2. It is valid practice to proceed from the known to the unknown; 3. A good way to study beliefs about the past is by approaching them through the tools of general social anthropology. Historians, such as Emanuele Le Roy Ladurie in his book Peasants of Languedoc, sought to disprove this theory, by extensively explaining that there is no human community which has remained motionless over time. Even what may once have been considered the archaic world of peasants, as was the community of Languedoc, was not as archaic as one might have imagined. It was full of movement and change. In other words, the agrarian world, which for centuries had been thought to have experienced no great evolution has, in fact, been a repository of historical change. Yet, with cautiousness and measurement, the basic principles of the 'up streaming' theory can still be applied to explain and contextualise a number of anecdotal notes that are sparsely recorded in historical documents. In most cases, snippets and anecdotes of historical information can be a mine of information. More often than not, they hide historical realities which can only be unearthed if the briefly recounted event is substantiated by an accurate reading of the geographical background and inserted in a historical framework. This type of analysis can mean that one might need to reconstruct the past urban or rural morphology, by studying the geography of the area where the event took place. This type of work departs from the study of the contemporary geomorphology of the place concerned, and from this study one can attempt to reconstruct how the same area might have appeared when the event being studied occurred. Such a reconstruction involves an up streaming policy, in the sense that the reconstruction would need to take a number of unverifiable aspects into consideration, yet departing from the study of the geographical terrain as it is looks like at t.he present contemporary state, Using this 'up streaming' theory, I have tried to reconstruct the sequence of events behind a tragedy that in 1581 puzzled the village of Hal Kirkop. This story was recorded in the form of a very brief note in the parish register of Bir Miftuh, now archived in the parish church of Gudja.
ISBN: 9993270954
Appears in Collections:Scholarly Works - FacArtHis

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