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Gästriklands bergsmän, Kronan och handelskapitalet: Aktörer och institutionella spelregler i bergsmansbruket, 1650-1870
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Economic History.
1999 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This investigation was originally based on the family archives of the bergsmän (iron producing peasants) in the parishes of Torskåer and Ovansjö in south-west Gästrikland. They gave an insight into a rather unknown proto-industry, run since medieval times by peasant households and flourishing in the 18th and 19th centuries. To understand the proper background more material had to be brought from other sources.

In Early Modern times, Sweden played a significant role in the supply of wrought iron in Western Europe. The production, ordered by the Crown, was in three stages: first the bergsmän mined and blast-furnaced the iron, then the ironmasters forged it, and last the ironmerchants shipped the finished product. But in the county of Gästrikland the bergsmän succeeded in maintaining their pig-iron as well as bar-iron production, in spite of keen competition from the ironmasters, and sold it to the ironmerchants in the town of Gävle, 50 to 80 kilometres away. In this way some could make a substantial living, but others were driven into debt by mortgage loans, resulting in a significant economic differentiation among the bergsmän.

In the 17th century, when Sweden appeared on the North European market, the bar-ironproduction in Gästrikland was strongly increased by the appearance of Scottish, Dutch andSwedish merchants investing in iron works and iron trade. Throughout the 18th century thebergsmän could keep some 20% of the bar-iron production in the county for themselves up to the mid-19th century, thanks to the fact that their marketing was managed by the merchants of Gävle. Starting in the 18th century many socio-economic conflicts arose between peasants and masters, especially over the interpretation of the institutional framework and the production and furnishing of charcoal. The Crown tried to clear up such conflicts, while the peasants benefited, thus gaining social status and self-esteem. From 1810 the institutional rules of the Crown were gradually liberalised, and merchant capital could start to penetrate the peasants' iron works and forests. Thus around 1870 the peasants' iron works were gone and the peasants changed to fulltime farming or to work in forests or new industries.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis , 1999. , 274 p.
Uppsala Studies in Economic History, ISSN 0346-6493 ; 45
Keyword [en]
Economic history, family archives, proto-industry, iron producing peasants (bergsmän), ironmasters, ironmerchants, institutional framework, economic differentiation, socio-economic conflicts, social status, merchant capital penetration
Keyword [sv]
Ekonomisk historia
National Category
Economic History
Research subject
Economic History
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-289ISBN: 91-554-4395-8OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-289DiVA: diva2:162144
Public defence
1999-05-08, hörsal 4, Ekonomikum, Kyrkogårdsgatan 10, Uppsala, Uppsala, 10:15
Available from: 1999-04-17 Created: 1999-04-17 Last updated: 2010-08-25Bibliographically approved

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