Sander Govaerts

Winner Dissertation Prize 2021

Mosasaurs. Interactions between armies and Ecosystems in the Meuse Region 1250-1850.

Supervisors: Prof. dr. W.D.E. Aerts & Prof. dr. G. Geltner
Co-supervisor: Dr. M.J.M. Damen
Nomination: University of Amsterdam, Faculty of Humanities

Report by the selection committee

Can one research and write a rich and multidisciplinary book on 600 years of military and ecological history about a river region stretching almost 1.000 kilometers, from the middle of France all the way to Rotterdam, and can one do so in not more than 350 pages, while strictly adhering to the academic norms of definition, documentation and methodology? The answer is: yes, that is possible, and the author proved it, with this thoroughly researched, well-crafted and beautifully written study.

The jury considered this study more than a PhD-thesis alone, it is also a mature book, original in subject and treatment, and surprising in its conclusions, in that it shows how the involvement of armies with the landscapes, the flora and the fauna of the Meuse region in the given period was not – as you would have expected – destructive, but rather conservationist, in a manner that predates modern-day environmentalism by several centuries. A beautiful and highly original book that deserves a wide audience.