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I godsets skugga? Frälsebonden på Ängsö: Familj och arbete 1700-1880
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of History.
2004 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
In the shadow of the manor?The frälse farmer from Ängsö : Family and work 1700-1880 (English)
Abstract [en]

At the beginning of the 18th century, around 95 percent of Sweden’s working population were engaged in some form of agricultural activity. They were mainly peasants who were administratively divided into three separate categories, skatte, krono and frälse farmers. The categories also reflected the form of taxation to which the land they tilled was subject. Land (type) was defined according to its tax rating, and the farmer who tilled the land was named according to its category.

This dissertation deals with the problem concerning whether these differences in the tax coding of land, and thereby its general status, affected the everyday conditions of individual peasants. Was family life affected? Is it possible to identify differences in peasant’s interests and efforts to increase and improve the land they cultivated? Could a farmer’s relationship to his land influence his possibilities to generate wealth? This study is focussed on the customary tenants (frälsebönder - landbor), whose everyday conditions will be examined in detail and, in selected parts, be compared with those of the free tenants (skattebönder).

The results of the study show that the frälse farmers in Ängsö parish lived in large households. Almost all farm households in Ängsö have, during their lifetime formed part of an extended family. An analysis of the size of households in Ängsö gave a figure, which is considerably higher than figures that have been shown previously for other areas in eastern Sweden. The extended family was the rule rather than the exception in Ängsö during the entire period covered by this study. The frälse farmers in Ängsö had also larger households than skatte farmers in the parish of Tortuna.

It is obvious that the inhabitants of Ängsö implemented family planning. The interval between births indicates that there was conscious family planning in order to limit the number of births and determine the interval between them. The people of Ängsö tended during the entire research period to age and die close to their family.

The results also demonstrate that living conditions must have changed over the years, and not for the better. Rural women in Ängsö appear to have lived a better life during the 18th century despite giving birth to considerably more children. Their life expectancy decreased during the 19th century by approximately 4.5 years.

The study shows that fertility all the time was higher in the skatte parish Tortuna compared to the frälse parish Ängsö. There is a structural difference between skatte and frälse farmers concerning fertility levels. In this respect Ängsö and Tortuna parishes (skatte) in eastern Sweden differ from the district in western Sweden where frälse farmers were the most fertile group. The difference between Ängsö and Tortuna became increasingly evident after 1760 and culminated during the years 1790-1820.

My findings indicate that frälse as well as skatte farmers were largely engaged in land clearing. The farmers themselves were initiating and responsible for practically all land clearance. Frälse farmers and crofters seem to have been as active in clearing land as skatte farmers with freehold rights.

The frälse farmer, who also often took over his ancestors’ farm, did not pay a large sum of money when he took over. The reason was of course that he did not own the property. This is, presumably, the main reason why the value of the frälse farmer’s personal estate often was higher than the skatte farmers at all periods except for the last one.

This thesis show, without any doubt, that the large group of Swedish farmers, which were called frälse farmers, did not manage their farms less well than the skatte farmers. Up to the time of their exit from Swedish agrarian history the frälse farmers were just as interested in efficiently managing and improving their farms and in creating growth and wealth as their skatte farmer colleagues were.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Stads- och kommunhistoriska institutet , 2004. , 230 p.
Studier i stads- och kommunhistoria, ISSN 0284-1193 ; 26
Keyword [en]
landed estates, manor, enclosure, agricultural crisis, farm mechanisation, organisation of labour, agricultural workers, peasants, paternalism, power, political culture, everyday resistance, costomary tenants, landlords, free tenants, possessery rights, use-rights, rent, acreage of arable, deeds, Västmanland, Sweden
National Category
Specific Languages
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-241ISBN: 91-88882-21-7OAI: diva2:191393
Public defence
2004-10-08, hörsal 4, hus B, Universitetsvägen 10, Stockholm, 10:00
Available from: 2004-09-14 Created: 2004-09-14Bibliographically approved

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