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Tjerngren, Beverly
Publications (2 of 2) Show all publications
Tjerngren, B. (2016). “[T]he odor of money surrounds the clergy”: Clergy, Finance, and Influence in 18th-century Sweden. In: : . Paper presented at British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies Annual Conference.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>“[T]he odor of money surrounds the clergy”: Clergy, Finance, and Influence in 18th-century Sweden
2016 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation only (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

“[T]he odor of money surrounds the clergy” — Clergy, Finance, and Influence in 18th-century Sweden

This paper will address the expansion of 18th-century Swedish clergy within the financial sphere and their efforts and ambitions to more closely identify themselves with the bourgeoisie, an aspect of early modern clerical activity that has too often been overlooked.

Eighteenth-century Swedish probate inventories reveal a clergy who were highly involved in economic life far beyond the confines of their local parishes. The inventories show that these clergy often made loans from their personal incomes, both small sums to parishioners from more modest economic circumstances than their own, as well as more substantial amounts to a variety of social elites. It was not uncommon that a significant portion of the assets listed in the final reckoning of an estate was made up of outstanding debts owed to the clergyman by a wide range of borrowers. The loans given to those of higher social standing, in particular, were an important part of the clergy’s working within and maintaining networks of influence that frequently went outside the boundaries of their parishes.

A good example of a clergyman acting in this manner is Olof (or Olaus) Bergman, who was ordained in 1729 to be a private chaplain to Elsa Sparre, the widow of nobleman Gabriel Oxenstierna av Croneborg. The bulk of his career was spent as rector at Bollnäs, a regally-appointed position in a wealthy and influential parish. Bergman held this position from 1741 until his death in 1761, and the probate inventory drawn up for his estate in 1762 shows a substantial final value of 369.308 d.kmt. Of this sum, approximately half was outstanding debts owed to him by diverse individuals.

Bergman used his service as a private chaplain as a stepping-stone to a lucrative career within the church. Preliminary research indicates that the rectory was quite large and impressive, with Bergman also being actively engaged in improving the church and church property, even donating substantial sums from his private money to make improvements. This is convincing evidence of attempts of clergy to imitate their social betters.

The primary source material for this research is probate inventories of eighteenth-century Swedish clergymen, but I also make significant use of herdaminnen, or detailed collections of biographical information for Swedish clergy from medieval times to the present. Further, church records such as inspection protocols and church council reports will be used to add detail and nuance to my analysis.

Keywords
clergy, finance, probate inventories, money-lending
National Category
History
Research subject
History
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-287889 (URN)
Conference
British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies Annual Conference
Available from: 2016-04-26 Created: 2016-04-26 Last updated: 2016-04-26
Tjerngren, B. (2016). What Portends the Bell’s Toll?: Social Differences in a Local Parish Made Evident at a Child's Burial. In: : . Paper presented at ESSHC 2016.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>What Portends the Bell’s Toll?: Social Differences in a Local Parish Made Evident at a Child's Burial
2016 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

What Portends the Bell’s Toll? Social Differences in a Local Parish Made Evident at the Burial of a Clergyman’s Child

In 1768, the ten-year-old daughter of rector Magnus Leverin–the only one of his four children to survive past infancy‒died as a result of serious illness. On the occasion of the girl’s funeral, the new church bell that the rector had recently put his parish in significant debt to acquire was rung for the first time. That church bell was to be a long-standing point of contention for the clergyman and, after his death, for his widow. Not only was its procurement extraordinarily costly, but the outstanding debt associated with its purchase existed alongside an embarrassing and unexplained shortage in the church’s poor relief funds. Following Leverin’s death it was determined by the Cathedral Chapter in Uppsala, after a lengthy exchange of letters, that his estate–meaning Leverin’s impoverished widow–was responsible to repay to the church 209 daler kopparmynt from the little remainder she had left after her husband’s other substantial debts had been cleared.

This study investigates the burial of a clergyman’s child in a small, rural parish in 18th-century Sweden, going not only into the social pressures surrounding the practicalities of the funeral proceedings themselves, but also the long-term consequences–and resultant tensions‒of death in what might be considered the “ruling family” of the rector in a small, economically beleaguered community. Previous research has indicated an eagerness on the part of early modern clergy to identify themselves–and to be identified–more closely with the nobility. Inasmuch as this posited eagerness has not been thoroughly examined for clergymen and their families outside the upper echelons of clerical power, this study has much to offer for an increased understanding of the actions of these significant players in early modern Europe.

Keywords
clergy, social difference, early modern, Sweden
National Category
History
Research subject
History
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-287886 (URN)
Conference
ESSHC 2016
Available from: 2016-04-26 Created: 2016-04-26 Last updated: 2016-04-26
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