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What Portends the Bell’s Toll?: Social Differences in a Local Parish Made Evident at a Child's Burial
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of History.
2016 (English)Conference paper, 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.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
clergy, social difference, early modern, Sweden
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Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-287886OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-287886DiVA: diva2:923558
ESSHC 2016
Available from: 2016-04-26 Created: 2016-04-26 Last updated: 2016-04-26

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Tjerngren, Beverly
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Department of History

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