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History
The archaic archaeological sites
The Daunians, the Peucetians, the Greeks and the Romans
The ruralisation of the territory, the monastic settlements, the Saracen invasions
The Normans, the Swabians, the Angevins, the Aragonese
The sheep-tracks and the transhumance
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Recent history
The Aragonese Customs Office was seriously challenged by the followers of the Enlightenment movement, but it was not until some years later with Giuseppe Bonaparte, King of Naples, that the eversive feudal laws were promulgated (1806) and, taking into consideration the requests of the shepherds, who pushed to have land to sow, in 1807 the same king closed the Sheep Customs Office. Preparations were made for the division en masse of the State feuds, on which the feudal lords and the population had exercised their rights for many centuries.

The enormous patrimony acquired by the Church, prevalently during the 1600's and 1700's (more than one-sixth of Italian lands), was confiscated by Napoleon at the beginning of the 19th century and was expropriated, put on auction and transferred to the newly emerging land-owning middle classes, who naturally pass the burden of the cost of the acquisition of the properties onto the population. In 1865, after the unification of Italy, a law was promulgated to free immense expanses from obligations. A vast mass of properties was put back into circulation, all to the advantage of the middle class which bought large properties at low prices, creating a new class of large landowners.

Corresponding to the development of agriculture that followed the gradual redistribution of the lands that had belonged to the Customs Office and their definitive acquisition by shepherds or farmers, was the decay and then the almost complete disappearance of stock-raising: from 6 million animals in 1400 down to a few tens of thousands in 1900.

All of these last developments had an enormous transforming effect on the territory. With the indiscriminate parcelling that followed the attempt at agrarian reform, the landscape changed its appearance completely. Kilometres of dry-stone walls and a very dense secondary road system were built to meet the needs of the new subdivided plots. Service buildings multiplied on lands reconverted to agricultural use (trullos, caselle, lamie, and pagliari). The progressive abandonment of stock-raising accompanied the diffusion of cereal crops realised with large-scale ploughing of the pastures and deforestation. In the subdivided lands, crops like grapes, almond and olive become more common. This land is slowly reconverted into a large producer of oil and wine. Immense forest areas, particularly in the territories of Andria and Corato, are brutally transformed into cultivatable land.

In the following century, thanks to the construction of the Puglian Waterworks, the large Tableland plain and a large part of the pre-Murgian territory develop all of their agricultural potential, while imposing land reclamation operations render the swampy areas of Salpi lake immensely productive, with the industrialisation of the salt-works and the specialisation of the neighbouring agricultural territories. Extensive crops of olive groves, almond groves and grape vines become permanent fixtures in an agrarian organisation concentrated in the hands of large landowners and of a few small landowners. Only after the end of the Second World War is a new process of agrarian reform begun, which will develop into the current configuration of the agrarian landscape.
Agenzia per l'Occupazione e lo Sviluppo dell'area Nord Barese Ofantina - s.c.a r.l.
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