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Konstruktionen av en stormakt: Kungamakt, skattebönder och statsbildning 1595-1640
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of History.
2007 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
Constructing the Swedish Power State : the King, the Peasants and the State Building Process 1595 – 1640 (English)
Abstract [en]

State building has traditionally been viewed strictly as the prerogative of rulers. However, recent studies have been focusing more on the perspective of state building from below. Princes and central administrators needed the active support of their leading subjects. In most parts of Europe this meant the nobility and/or the rich merchant groups.

In Sweden, however, there were few rich merchants and the nobility, lead by the old aristocracy, did not support the state that the Vasa kings wanted to build. So the kings turned to the only group left to support them, the Swedish landholding farmers. They were the major tax contributors and they were also a military force to be reckoned with. But if the kings wanted their support they also had to give them something in return. The more dependent the king was on their support, the more political influence the farmers could exercise.

It has long been an issue of debate whether the Swedish peasants, a) could be considered as a proactive, political group, b) whether they actually had a political program of their own and c) if they were able to exercise a lasting influence upon the formation of the Swedish state. When examining the evidence it becomes clear that the taxpaying farmers can be considered as a political proactive group with a political program. It is also clear that they managed to influence the state building process. But this influence was closely tied to the current value of their support. Duke Karl (later Karl IX) badly needed the farmer’s support in his fight for the crown. His son, Gustav II Adolf, managed to gain the support of the nobility as well as the support of the farmers, consequently he did not need the farmers support as badly as his father. After the kings death in 1632 the nobility took control. They did not need the farmers support at all, and consequently the state formation process now took a path contrary to the farmer’s interests.

The Swedish peasants did, however, manage to retain parts of their political influence and they maintained their position in the diet. In short, the Swedish taxpaying farmers were politically active subjects, they did have a political program of their own and they did, indeed, exercise a considerable influence on the state building process from below.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Acta Universitatis Stockholmiensis, 2007. , 276 p.
Stockholm studies in history, ISSN 0491-0842 ; 90
Keyword [sv]
Statsbildningsprocess, underifrånperspektiv
National Category
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-7047ISBN: 978-91-85445-75-2OAI: diva2:197542
Public defence
2007-09-22, hörsal 9, Hus D, Universitetsvägen 10, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Available from: 2007-08-31 Created: 2007-08-31 Last updated: 2012-07-10Bibliographically approved

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