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The Fields our Fathers Plowed Thwarted Change in the Development of a Professionalized Concept of Agriculture at the start of the Early Modern Period By Elisabeth Yazdzik Introduction Agricultural Stereotypes and Agrarian Advice Manuals The history of agriculture is one of the least studied and most important fields of of history Though the rising trend to social history has moved the historian away from dates and battles and into a more complex understanding of the daily lives of our ancestors it has yet to stray very far into the fields forests streams and ponds which nourished them As much myth as fact seems to lace our understanding of agrarian history Economics mingles little with social science archeology and engineering shy from old manuscripts and linguistics weakly ties only disparate facts together Yet despite this the information is out there vital critical especially now as new interest in agriculture and a return to the land surfaces Part of the issue with agrarian history is that events might have played out differently Throughout history many occupations eventually became professions Farming never truly did This paper seeks to examine the failed professionalization of agriculture and to trace its roots to the drastic changes which were occurring in at the end of the Medieval era At its core the failure of agriculture to professionalize lay in the conflict between two forces the conservative body of peasant farmers striving to maintain a livelihood from the soil and the body of early agrarian theorists gentleman farmers whose freedom to write and innovate was the fruit of peasant labor The key to understanding this conflict lies in the examination early Modern agrarian advice manuals Within the roots of Western European agrarian history one sees the troubles and questions which even now dog the heels of modern society Everyone eats and historically almost everyone has been somehow involved in the food production process The transition to the modern era

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