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Oceanic thirst? Food consumption in mediaeval Sweden
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Economic History.
2015 (English)In: Scandinavian Economic History Review, ISSN 0358-5522, E-ISSN 1750-2837, Vol. 63, no 2, 135-153 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The article explores data on food consumption in mediaeval Sweden and discussesthe implications with regard to living standards. The key question is whether foodconsumption was more plentiful and/or more varied during the late mediaeval erathan during the early modern epoch. Based on two mediaeval account books,from the castles of Nyköping and Stegeborg, respectively, three conclusionsemerge. (1) Compared to mid-sixteenth century royal farms and other institutions,the mediaeval accounts suggest that food consumption was less plentiful butprobably more varied. (2) Over time, the proportion of beer in the budgets tendedto grow at the expense of meat. Late mediaeval landlords were pressed bydiminishing farmland rents. Swedish as well as English data are consistent with theview that lords were able to shift food expenditure from high-cost to low-costcalories. (3) Conspicuous food consumption did not play a prominent role indefining social hierarchy at Stegeborg castle in the late fifteenth century. By themid-sixteenth century this had changed. Low social rank now gave access only tocheap beer of a quality far below that which had applied half a century before.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 63, no 2, 135-153 p.
Keyword [en]
food, consumption, Sweden, medieval
National Category
Economic History
Research subject
Economic History
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-121769DOI: 10.1080/03585522.2014.987315OAI: diva2:861228
Välfärdens förhistoria: levnadsstandard, kris och skattetryck 1300-1600
The Jan Wallander and Tom Hedelius Foundation, P2012:0176
Available from: 2015-10-15 Created: 2015-10-15 Last updated: 2015-10-19Bibliographically approved

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Söderberg, Johan
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