Skip to main content
×
Home

Manorialism and Risk Management in Pre-Industrial Society: Sweden in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries*

  • Martin Dribe (a1), Mats Olsson (a1) and Patrick Svensson (a1)
Abstract

Throughout pre-industrial Europe, the manorial estate was an important institution in the rural economy. Related literature communicates the widespread view that the estates insured their tenants against uncertainties, for example, in times of economic hardship. By distributing grain or accepting deferment of rents, the manors helped to alleviate hunger in times of scarcity. If this insurance was indeed effective, then manorial tenants should have experienced less fluctuation in income or food availability than other peasants. However, there has not been much empirical confirmation that the pre-industrial estates were effective in providing this kind of insurance. This study uses the impact of grain prices on demographic outcomes as a measure of the efficiency of the manorial system in protecting its inhabitants against economic stress. Looking at four hundred parishes in Sweden (1749-1859), the manorial estate seems to have been able to insure its inhabitants against risks of economic stress, but the protective effect was imperfect and only visible in the short term.

Copyright
Footnotes
Hide All
*

The authors would like to thank the Linnaeus Center for Economic Demography, Lund University, and the research project “Economic Development and Social Dynamics: Swedish Agricultural Transformation in European Perspective” for financial support. We are also grateful to Lars Persson of the Department of Social and Economic Geography at Lund University for sharing his land ownership data. Previous versions of this article have been presented at the IUSSP seminar “Demographic Responses to Sudden Economic and Environmental Change” held at Reitaku University in Japan in May, 2009, the CNRS/EHESS workshop “A Critical Re-Examination of Demographic and Economic Crises in Western Europe from the Middle Ages to the early Twentieth Century” in Treviso, Italy in June 2009, and the World Congress of Economic History in Utrecht in August 2009. We thank the participants in these sessions for their comments and suggestions, particularly Gérard Béaur, who provided the idea for and nurtured our publication proposals.

Footnotes
References
Hide All

1. Blum Jerome, The End of the Old Order in Rural Europe (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1978 ).

2. Brenner Robert, “Agrarian Class Structure and Economic Development in Pre-Industrial Europe,” in The Brenner Debate: Agrarian Class Structure and Economic Development in Pre-Industrial Europe, eds. Ashton T. H. and Philpin C. H. E. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), 10-63 ; Dobb Maurice, Studies in the Development of Capitalism (New York: International Publishers, 1946; repr. 1963); Sweezy Paul, ed., The Transition from Feudalism to Capitalism (London: New Left Books, 1954; repr. 1976); and Hatcher John and Bailey Mark, Modelling the Middle Ages: The History and Theory of England’s Economic Development (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001 ).

3. Bloch Marc, “The Rise of Dependent Cultivation and Seigniorial Institutions,” in The Cambridge Economic History of Europe, vol. 1, The Agrarian Life of the Middle Ages, ed. Postan M. M. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1966), 236 .

4. North Douglass C. and Thomas Robert Paul, “The Rise and Fall of the Manorial System: A Theoretical Model,Journal of Economic History 31-4 (1971): 777-803 ; North Douglass C. and Thomas Robert Paul, The Rise of the Western World: A New Economic History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973 ); and Bloch , “The Rise of Dependent,” 245 .

5. Blum , The End of the Old Order, 91 .

6. Thompson E. P., “The Moral Economy of the English Crowd in the Eighteenth Century,” Past and Present 50 (1971): 76-136 .

7. Ibid.

8. Bengtsson Tommy and Reher David, “Population and the Economy, Part D. Short and Medium Term Relations Between Population and Economy,” in Debates and Controversies in Economic History , ed. Núñez Clara Eugenia (Madrid: Fundación Ramón Areces, 1998), 99-115 ; Bengtsson Tommy and Ohlsson Rolf, “Age-Specific Mortality and Short-Term Changes in the Standard of Living: Sweden, 1751-1859,European Journal of Population 1-4 (1985): 309-26 ; Lee Ronald D., “Short-Term Variation: Vital Rates, Prices and Weather,” in The Population History of England, 1541-1871: A Reconstruction, eds. Wrigley Edward Anthony and Schofield R. S. (London: Edward Arnold, 1981), 356-401 ; and Galloway Patrick R., “Basic Patterns in Annual Variations in Fertility, Nuptiality, Mortality, and Prices in Pre-Industrial Europe,” Population Studies 42-2 (1988): 275-303 .

9. Bengtsson Tommy, “Living Standards and Economic Stress,” in Life Under Pressure: Mortality and Living Standards in Europe and Asia, 1700-1900 , eds. Bengtsson Tommy, Campbell Cameron, and Lee James Z. (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2004), 45-46 .

10. Hiltpold Paul, “The Price, Production, and Transportation of Grain in Early Modern Castile,” Agricultural History 63-1 (1989): 73-91 .

11. See, for example, Persson Karl Gunnar, Grain Markets in Europe 1500-1900: Integration and Deregulation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999 ).

12. Hoffman Philip T., Growth in a Traditional Society: The French Countryside 1450-1815 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996), 69-80 ; Rosenthal Jean-Laurent, “Rural Credit Markets and Aggregate Shocks: The Experience of Nuits St. Georges, 1756-1776,” Journal of Economic History 54-2 (1994): 288-306 ; and Svensson Patrick, “Peasants and Entrepreneurship in the Nineteenth-Century Agricultural Transformation of Sweden,” Social Science History 30-3 (2006): 387-429 .

13. See the discussion in Bengtsson, “Living Standards and Economic Stress.”

14. Wrigley and Schofield, The Population History of England, 1541-1871.

15. Broadberry Steven and Gupta Bishnupriya, “The Early Modern Great Divergence: Wages, Prices and Economic Development in Europe and Asia, 1500-1800,Economic History Review 59-1 (2006): 2-31 ; Clark Gregory, A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007 ); Parthasarathi Prasannan, The Transition to a Colonial Economy: Weavers, Merchants and Kings in South India, 1720-1800 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001 ); Pomeranz Kenneth, The Great Divergence: China, Europe and the Making of the Modern World Economy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000 ); Allen Robert C., The British Industrial Revolution in Global Perspective (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009 ); Vries Jan de and Woude Ad van der, The First Modern Economy: Success, Failure, and Perseverance of the Dutch Economy, 1500-1815 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997 ); and Zanden Jan Luiten van and Riel Arthur van, The Structures of Inheritance: The Dutch Economy in the Nineteenth Century (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004 ).

16. Lee, “Short-Term Variation”; Lee Ronald D., “The Demographic Response to Economic Crises in Historical and Contemporary Populations,” Population Bulletin of the United Nations 20-1 (1990): 1-15 ; Weir David, “Life Under Pressure: France and England, 1670-1870,” Journal of Economic History 44-1 (1984): 27-47 ; Bengtsson and Ohlsson , “Age-Specific Mortality”; Eckstein Zvi, Schultz T. Paul, and Wolpin Kenneth I., “Short-Run Fluctuations in Fertility and Mortality in Pre-Industrial Sweden,” European Economic Review 26-3 (1985): 295-317 ; Galloway Patrick R., “Annual Variation in Deaths by Age, Deaths by Cause, Prices, and Weather in London 1670-1830,” Population Studies 39-3 (1985): 487-505 ; and Patrick R. Galloway, “Basic Patterns.”

17. Bengtsson and Reher, “Population”; Hammel Eugene A. and Galloway Patrick R., “Structural and Behavioral Changes in the Short-Term Preventive Check in the Northwest Balkans in the 18th and 19th centuries,” European Journal of Population 16-1 (2000): 67-108 ; Feeney Griffith and Kiyoshi Hamano, “Rice Price Fluctuations and Fertility in Late Tokugawa Japan,” Journal of Japanese Studies 16-1 (1990): 1-30 ; Palloni Alberto, Pérez-Brignoli Hector, and Arias Elizabeth, “Malthus in Latin America: Demographic Responses During the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries,” in Population and Economy: From Hunger to Modern Economic Growth, eds. Bengtsson Tommy and Saito Osamu (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 213-54 .

18. Carlsson Gösta, “Nineteenth-Century Fertility Oscillations,” Population Studies 24-3 (1970): 413-22 ; Bengtsson Tommy, “A Re-Interpretation of Population Trends and Cycles in England, France and Sweden, 1751-1860,” Histoire &Mesure 8-1/2 (1993): 93-115 .

19. Bengtsson Tommy and Dribe Martin, “Deliberate Control in a Natural Fertility Population: Southern Sweden, 1766-1894,” Demography 43-4 (2006): 727-46 ; Bengtsson Tommy and Dribe Martin, “Economic Stress and Reproductive Responses,” in Prudence and Pressure: Reproduction and Human Agency in Europe and Asia, 1700-1900, eds. Tsuya Noriko O. et al. (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2010 ); and Dribe Martin and Scalone Francesco, “Detecting Deliberate Fertility Control in Pre-Transitional Populations: Evidence from Six German Villages, 1766-1863,” European Journal of Population 26-4 (2010): 411-34 .

20. Bengtsson and Ohlsson , “Age-Specific Mortality”; Bengtsson Tommy, “The Vulnerable Child: Economic Insecurity and Child Mortality in Pre-Industrial Sweden: A Case Study of Västanfors, 1757-1850,” European Journal of Population 15-2 (1999): 117-51 ; Bengtsson , Campbell , and Lee , ed., Life Under Pressure .

21. See, for example: Utterström Gustaf, Jordbrukets arbetare. Levnadsvillkor och arbetsliv på landsbygden från frihetstiden till mitten av 1800-talet (Stockholm: Tiden, 1957), 207-8 ; Bengtsson , “The Vulnerable Child”; and Oris Michel, Derosas Renzo, and Breschi Marco, “Infant and Child Mortality,” in Life Under Pressure: Mortality and Living Standards in Europe and Asia, 1700-1900, eds. Bengtsson Tommy, Campbell Cameron, and Lee James Z. (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2004), 359-98 .

22. Bengtsson and Ohlsson R., “Age-Specific Mortality”; Lee , “Short-Term Variation”; and Galloway , “Basic Patterns.”

23. Bengtsson and Dribe , “Deliberate Control”; Livi-Bacci Massimo, Population and Nutrition: An Essay on European Demographic History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991 ); Galloway , “Basic Patterns”; Richards Toni, “Weather, Nutrition and the Economy: The Analysis of Short Run Fluctuations in Births, Deaths and Marriages, France 1740-1909,” in Pre-Industrial Population Change: The Mortality Decline and Short-Term Population Movements, eds. Bengtsson Tommy, Fridlizius Gunnar, and Ohlsson Rolf (Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell International, 1984), 357-90 .

24. Bengtsson and Dribe , “Deliberate Control”; Dribe and Scalone , “Detecting Deliberate Fertility Control.”

25. Richards , “Weather, Nutrition and the Economy.”

26. Bengtsson , Campbell , and Lee , Life Under Pressure; Allen Robert C., Bengtsson Tommy, and Dribe Martin, ed., Living Standards in the Past: New Perspectives on Well-Being in Asia and Europe (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005 ); Tsuya Noriko O. et al., eds., Prudence and Pressure: Reproduction and Human Agency in Europe and Asia, 1700-1900 (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2010 ).

27. Allen , Bengtsson , and Dribe , Living Standards in the Past; Bengtsson Tommy and Dribe Martin, “New Evidence on the Standard of Living in Sweden During the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries: Long-Term Development of the Demographic Response to Short-Term Economic Stress,” in Living Standards in the Past: New Perspectives on Well- Being in Asia and Europe, eds. Allen Robert C., Bengtsson Tommy, and Dribe Martin (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 341-72 ; and Bengtsson and Dribe , “Deliberate Control .”

28. Dribe Martin, “Dealing with Economic Stress Through Migration: Lessons from Nineteenth Century Rural Sweden,” European Review of Economic History 7-3 (2003): 271-99 .

29. Bengtsson and Dribe , “Deliberate Control.”

30. Campbell Cameron, Lee James Z., and Bengtsson Tommy, “Economic Stress and Mortality,” in Life Under Pressure: Mortality and Living Standards in Europe and Asia, 1700-1900, eds. Bengtsson Tommy, Campbell Cameron, and Lee James Z. (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2004), 69 .

31. Bengtsson and Dribe , “New Evidence on the Standard of Living”; Allen , Bengtsson , and Dribe , Living Standards in the Past .

32. Marx Karl, Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, vol. I, The Process of Capitalist Production (Chicago: Charles H. Kerr & Co., 1867; repr. 1906), 705 .

33. North and Thomas , “Rise and Fall,” 778 .

34. Dyer Christopher, An Age of Transition? Economy and Society in England in the Later Middle Ages (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 174 .

35. Fenoaltea Stefano, “Risk, Transaction Costs, and the Organization of Medieval Agriculture,” Explorations in Economic History 13-2 (1976), 133 .

36. Henningsen Peter, I sansernas vold. Bondekultur og kultursammanstød I enevældens Danmark (Copenhagen: Landbohistorisk Selskab, 2006 ).

37. Ibid., 465-66.

38. Ibid., 468.

39. Christiansen Palle Ove, A Manorial World: Lord, Peasants and Cultural Distinctions on a Danish Estate 1750-1980 (Oslo: Scandinavian University Press, 1996), 194-201 .

40. Moon David, The Russian Peasantry 1600-1930: The World the Peasants Made (New York: Longman, 1999), 94 .

41. Walter John, “The Social Economy of Dearth in Early Modern England,” in Famine, Disease and the Social Order in Early Modern Society, eds. Walter John and Schofield Roger (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 107 .

42. Dewald Jonathan, The European Nobility 1400-1800 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 68 .

43. Lundh Christer and Olsson Mats, “Tenancy Contracts in Scania from the Middle Ages to the Nineteenth Century,” in The Development of Leasehold in Northwestern Europe, c. 1200-1600, eds. Bavel Bas J. P. van and Schofield Philipp (Turnhout: Brepols, 2008), 113-37 ; Olsson Mats, “Peasant Freedom and Noble Dominance – Scania in Early Modern Times,” in Leibeigenschaft. Bäuerliche Unfreiheit in der frühen Neuzeit, ed. Klußmann Jan (Cologne: Böhlau Verlag, 2003), 117-34 .

44. Dribe Martin, Olsson Mats, and Svensson Patrick, “If the Landlord So Wanted: Family, Farm Production and Land Transfers in the Manorial System,” Economic History Review, forthcoming.

45. Lundh Christer and Olsson Mats, “The Institution of Retirement on Scanian Estates in the Nineteenth Century,” Continuity and Change, 17-3 (2002): 373-403 .

46. Jeppsson Gert, “Hospital och huvudgård. Adelsdonationer under 1500- och 1600-talen,” in Skånska godsmiljöer, eds. Arcadius Kerstin and Sundberg Kerstin (Lund: Skånes hembygdsförbund 2001), 81-104 .

47. Blum , The End of the Old Order, 91-92 .

48. Lund Regional Archives, church archives, minutes of the Parish Council to Hasslöv and Wåxtorp (sockenstämmmoprotokoll), September 25, 1803, and in Torup, May 2, 1784.

49. Olsson Mats, Storgodsdrift. Godsekonomi och arbetsorganisation i Skåne från dansk tid till mitten av 1800-talet (Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell International, 2002), 129 .

50. Englund Peter, Det hotade huset. Adliga föreställningar om samhället under stormaktstiden (Stockholm: Atlantis, 1989), 202 .

51. Bloch , “The Rise of Dependent,” 236 .

52. For a detailed sample of every empirical analysis accompanied by a complete description of the sample and the methods used, see Dribe Martin, Olsson Mats, and Svensson Patrick, “Was the Manorial System an Efficient Insurance Institution? Economic Stress and Demographic Response in Pre-industrial Sweden,” European Review of Economic History, forthcoming.

53. Svensson , “Peasants and Entrepreneurship.”

54. Olsson Mats, “Manorial Economy and Corvée Labour in Southern Sweden 1650-1850,Economic History Review, 59-3 (2006): 481-97 .

55. Sköld Peter, Kunskap och kontroll. Den svenska befolkningsstatistikens historia (Umeå: Almqvist & Wiksell International, 2001 ).

56. Jörberg Lennart, A History of Prices in Sweden 1732-1914 (Lund: Gleerup, 1972), 8-18 . Market prices followed an administrative pricing scale that was used to measure the value of different payments-in-kind. The rules governing the establishment of these prices varied to some extent over time, but they were generally indexed to the lowest-level market prices—i.e., those of the burgs, judicial districts (fögderi) or county parishes. The procedure for adjusting prices within the scale also evolved over time, sometimes resulting in negotiations between different brokers or the simple calculation of an average. Despite the administrative character of these prices, they faithfully reflected actual market prices and thus represent an inestimable source regarding the history of prices in Sweden.

57. This map indicates the manorial parishes in which at least 80% of the peasants were fiscally categorized as owing their labor to the estates. Note that one estate is hidden by the insert.

58. Taken from Gillberg Johan L., Historisk, Oeconomisk och Geographisk Beskrifning öfver Malmöhus Län uti Hertigdömet Skåne (Lund: Berling, 1765 ); Gillberg Johan L., Historisk, Oeconomisk och Geographisk Beskrifning öfver Christianstad Län uti Hertigdömet Skåne (Lund: Berling, 1767 ). Manorial estates and presbyteries are not included in these estimates.

59. In Dribe, Olsson , and Svensson , “Was the Manorial System,” we make the same comparison with the parishes dominated by landowning peasants, but the difference between these and the mixed parishes in terms of demographic responses to economic stress are negligeable.

60. Ibid.

61. Ibid., table 5.

62. These figures are based on estimates based on models of interaction in which the degree of manorialism as a categorical variable is combined with the price of rye.

63. Fridlizius Gunnar and Ohlsson Rolf, “Mortality Patterns in Sweden 1751-1802: A Regional Analysis,” in Pre-Industrial Population Change: The Mortality Decline and Short-Term Population Movements, eds. Bengtsson Tommy, Fridlizius Gunnar, and Ohlsson Rolf (Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell International, 1984), 299-328 .

64. Created based on estimates drawn from interactive models. To consult the entire data and for a discussion of sources used, see Dribe , Olsson , and Svensson , “Was the Manorial System.”

* The authors would like to thank the Linnaeus Center for Economic Demography, Lund University, and the research project “Economic Development and Social Dynamics: Swedish Agricultural Transformation in European Perspective” for financial support. We are also grateful to Lars Persson of the Department of Social and Economic Geography at Lund University for sharing his land ownership data. Previous versions of this article have been presented at the IUSSP seminar “Demographic Responses to Sudden Economic and Environmental Change” held at Reitaku University in Japan in May, 2009, the CNRS/EHESS workshop “A Critical Re-Examination of Demographic and Economic Crises in Western Europe from the Middle Ages to the early Twentieth Century” in Treviso, Italy in June 2009, and the World Congress of Economic History in Utrecht in August 2009. We thank the participants in these sessions for their comments and suggestions, particularly Gérard Béaur, who provided the idea for and nurtured our publication proposals.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Annales. Histoire, Sciences Sociales - English Edition
  • ISSN: 2398-5682
  • EISSN: 2268-3763
  • URL: /core/journals/annales-histoire-sciences-sociales-english-edition
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 1 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 34 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 20th January 2017 - 23rd November 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.