Inst. of Urban History
Dept of History, SU
STUDIER I STADS- OCH KOMMUNHISTORIA /
Stads- och kommunhistoriska institutet,
Historiska institutionen, Stockholms universitet,
S-106 91 Stockholm
I godsets skugga
Frälsebonden på Ängsö
Familj och arbete 1700-1880.
Akademisk avhandling som för avläggande av filosofie doktorsexamen
vid Stockholms universitet offentligen försvaras
i hörsal 4, hus B, Frescati, fredagen den 8 oktober 2004, klockan 10.00
In the Shadow of the Manor? The frälse farmer from Ängsö - Family and
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
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.
Key words: 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
Göran Samuelsson, Institute
of Urban History, Departement of History, Stockholm University,
S-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden.
ISBN 91-88882-21-7, 230 pp.