Plzeňské sympozia

Ondřej Hudeček

Creation of systematic flood prevention in late 18th century Bohemia

pp. 33–40 (Czech), Summary 39 (English), 40 (Deutsch)

The author discusses three basic factors which he believes had a crucial influence in the late 18th century on the creation of flood prevention in the lands of the Habsburg Empire. Specifically, these involved a new understanding of (the lack of) normality in natural phenomena, associated with the intellectual discussions that followed the Lisbon earthquake in 1755, as well as the extraordinary climatic conditions that led between 1784 and 1799 to a number of destructive floods and eventually to Enlightenment reforms in state administration, with special emphasis on the police. Based on the specific examples of the expansion of anti-flood measures in Vienna in 1784 and the textbook by Cadet de Vaux summarizing the recommended procedures for dealing with flooded buildings shows how Enlightenment centralization and rationalization of state administration made headway. It also points out that it was at the end of the 18th century that ''modern'' methods of risk management were established, along with procedures to facilitate dealing with the aftermath of natural disasters.

 

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