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Krigsbytets biografi: Byten i Riksarkivet, Uppsala universitetsbibliotek och Skokloster slott under 1600-talet
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Culture and Aesthetics.
2015 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This study explores the biography of spoils through analysing cases of cultural looting by Gustavus Adolphus and Carl Gustaf Wrangel during their seventeenth century military campaigns. Today, such artefacts are in general described as “war booty”, although this expression (“krigsbyte”) first occurred in the Swedish language in 1712. Hence, this study argues that the meaning of the term “war booty” and the objects that it designates, are historically contingent and by examining different material processes, this study reveals how cultural loot was created; the ways in which spoils were interpreted and given meaning by the Swedish elite and officials during the seventeenth century, and how different collections were affected by their presence.

The study applies theories of materiality in combination with cultural historical research on elite collecting during the early modern era. The analysis illuminates how qualities and identities such as geographical origin, genealogical connections, material substances, confessional belongings, and temporal assets were all crucial components in the shaping of spoils. These properties determined how the booty was handled and perceived from the battlefield to the archive, library, and museum collections. An object biographical method is used in order to explain the movements and transformations of spoils. Special attention is given to collection practices, in particular how things were classified and organised but also the variations in how they were used, viewed, touched, displayed, maintained, and preserved.

This study concludes that the seventeenth century spoils, which were not primarily understood as such at the time when they were made, transformed into national symbols of a lost empire during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Therein lie the complexities of their history and biography, which are revealed within this study.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm & Göteborg: Makadam Förlag, 2015. , 272 p.
Keyword [en]
17th century spoils of war, cultural looting, history of collections and collecting practices, object biography, materialisations, the history of archives, libraries, museums
National Category
Cultural Studies
Research subject
History of Ideas
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-116885ISBN: 9789170611803OAI: diva2:809405
Public defence
2015-06-05, Auditoriet, Humanistvillan, Frescativägen 24, Stockholm, 13:00 (Swedish)
Available from: 2015-05-13 Created: 2015-05-03 Last updated: 2015-05-12Bibliographically approved

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Hagström Molin, Emma
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