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The Peasants of Ottobeuren, 1487–1726
A Rural Society in Early Modern Europe


Part of Past and Present Publications

  • Date Published: November 2007
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521044585

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About the Authors
  • The Peasants of Ottobeuren offers an interesting perspective on one of the enduring problems of early modern European history: the possibilities for economic growth and social change in rural society. Based on the voluminous records of the Swabian Benedictine monastery of Ottobeuren, this study underscores the limitations of the traditional narrative of a sixteenth-century boom which foundered on the productive rigidities of the peasant economy and then degenerated into social crisis in the seventeenth century. Population growth did strain resources at Ottobeuren, but the peasantry continued to produce substantial agricultural surplus. More importantly, peasants reacted to demographic pressure by deepening their involvement in land and credit markets, and more widely and aggressively marketing the fruits of their labour. Marriage and inheritance underwent a similar process of commercialization which made heavy demands on the peasantry, but which maintained a degree of social stability through the devastations of war, plague and famine.

    • A detailed reconstruction of the actual workings of the German peasant economy
    • Provides answers to the social impact of the Thirty Years War, including the economics and politics of reconstruction and post-war immigration
    • A rare investigation into the early modern European economy which provides hard data for rural society during the 'crisis of the seventeenth century'
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Govind Sreenivasan's excellent new book is a major contribution to both the literature on peasants in European society and to Early Modern German History in general.' Sehepunkte

    '… achieves the rare feat of spanning the period from the late fifteenth to the early eighteenth century. The book is likely to be influential.' The Agricultural History Review

    '… enormously rich and detailed … an incisive and compelling analysis of the rapidly increasing commercialization of the rural economy in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.' German History

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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2007
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521044585
    • length: 412 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 152 x 25 mm
    • weight: 0.619kg
    • contains: 2 maps
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    List of figures
    List of maps
    List of tables
    Note on weights, measures and currencies
    1. Right and might (c.1480–c.1560)
    2. The discrete society (c.1480–c.1560)
    3. A crisis of numbers? (c.1560–c.1630)
    4. Integrity and the market (c.1560–c.1630)
    5. Living on borrowed time (c.1560–c.1630)
    6. To empty and to refill (c.1630–c.1720)
    Index of places
    General index.

  • Author

    Govind P. Sreenivasan, Brandeis University, Massachusetts
    Govind P. Sreenivasan is Assistant Professor of History, Brandeis University, Massachusetts.

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