- Department of Urban and Rural Development, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
The seventeenth century was a time when large economic transformations had direct consequences on people's everyday lives. Increased economic pressure was put on rural populations, which affected their management of the resources that they owned in common. This paper examines how peasant communities managed commonly owned forests in Finland during the seventeenth century. The focus is placed on North Ostrobothnia, where large-scale tar production and widespread timber cutting took place to meet the growing need of European states for forest products. Through the study of district court protocols, this article analyses how peasant communities responded to and coped with the new economic climate of the period while local authorities enforced royally sanctioned restrictions and outside interest groups raised demands on what the peasantry could provide. Consequently, the peasantry formalised previously informal rules, regulated cutting activities in relation to the taxable capacity of the peasant households, and re-established borders, which offset privatisation.
Finland; Sweden; 17th century; commons; forests
Scandinavian Economic History Review
2021, Volume: 69, number: 2, pages: 177-194