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Forskningsartikel2011Vetenskapligt granskad

The transition of landownership in Sweden 1562−1654 and its reflection in the agrarian landscape

Tollin, Clas


A huge transfer of wealth from the Crown to the nobility, and especially to the high aristocracy, took place during the first half of the 17th century, partly through the Crown donating or selling its homesteads to the nobility and partly through assignment to the nobility of the taxation revenue which the homesteads generated. The nobility increased their land holdings by 250 per cent between 1560 and 1652. The influence and revenues of the Crown were further reduced by the simultaneous introduction of territorial counties and baronies. Regional developments are illustrated with the aid of thematic maps showing the change of land ownership in 70 hundreds (härad) of East Central Sweden. There also occurred a transition from tenant and family farming to agricultural estates. The revolutionary impact of ownership changes on the agrarian landscape can be studied in the earlier large-scale maps. For tenant farmers in general, the transition from being a tenant of the Crown to being a tenant of the nobility made practically no difference to agricultural practice and land use. Bigger changes accompanied the formation of manorial properties (säteri). Several villages were evacuated or demolished in connection with the formation of new manorial estates, especially in the Mälaren Valley. The new manor houses were often sited near big lakes or the sea. Orchards, deer parks, parklands, carp ponds and suchlike were established round about the corps de logis. Large outbuildings and stalls for livestock were often erected on the site of the former village. If possible, a brickworks was also established for producing the necessary building material. Another noticeable element of landscaping was the laying out of straight avenues linking the main building with vital points. Lime and oak were the preferred tree species. The productive landscape, however, changed surprisingly little. Land use, field configurations and enclosure systems remained much as before, as did technology and production. The high aristocracy invested their newfound gains mostly in stately buildings and conspicuous consumption. Very little money was ploughed back into farming itself. It was not until the agrarian revolution that farming underwent a major transformation with steeply rising productivity. This is equally true of both small-scale and manorial farming


The transition of landownership in Sweden 1562−1654 and its reflection in the agrarian landscape

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Bebyggelsehistorisk tidskrift
2011, nummer: 61, sidor: 39-52

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