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Fri 14 April
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Sat 15 April
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Saturday 15 April 2023 08.30 - 10.30
D-13 RUR02a Compulsory Labour in Premodern Rural Europe
B21
Network: Rural Chair: Julia Heinemann
Organizers: Martin Andersson, Carolina Uppenberg Discussants: -
Jordan Claridge : Free and Unfree Labour on Medieval English Demesnes
In pre-industrial agrarian societies, the potential for economic growth was inexorably tied to the productivity of agricultural labourers. Unsurprisingly, agricultural labour productivity has featured prominently in most narratives of medieval economies. Low labour productivity in agriculture is often seen as part of the explanation for an early fourteenth-century Malthusain ... (Show more)
In pre-industrial agrarian societies, the potential for economic growth was inexorably tied to the productivity of agricultural labourers. Unsurprisingly, agricultural labour productivity has featured prominently in most narratives of medieval economies. Low labour productivity in agriculture is often seen as part of the explanation for an early fourteenth-century Malthusain crisis, while Marxist narratives point to lordly expropriation as a key factor in limiting peasant productivity. In medieval England, we know that lords employed both free and unfree labour on their personal demesne farms. We also know that the deployment of these different sources of labour changed over the course of the later Middle Ages, with wage labour becoming the dominant source of agricultural work, especially after the Black Death of 1348-50. What the current literature lacks, however, is a nuanced understanding of the full spectrum of labour on English demesnes. Did any manors use free or unfree labour exclusively? Were wage labourers typically engaged in different compared to their unfree colleagues? Finally, is it possible to estimate the relative productivity of free and unfree labour? This paper will address these questions with an examination of hundreds of manorial accounts drawn from manors across England between 1260 and 1450. (Show less)

Marian Niedermayr : Compulsory Labour in Lower Austrian Manorial Agriculture, 1550-1750
The Lower Austrian manorial system in the Early Modern period has been characterized as a transition zone between the ideal types of “eastern demesne lordship” and “western rent-tacking lordship”. While some landlords raised their income in reaction to the sixteenth-century price revolution by selling goods to their subjects claiming banal ... (Show more)
The Lower Austrian manorial system in the Early Modern period has been characterized as a transition zone between the ideal types of “eastern demesne lordship” and “western rent-tacking lordship”. While some landlords raised their income in reaction to the sixteenth-century price revolution by selling goods to their subjects claiming banal rights, others expanded their arable demesne land and tried to establish new corvée obligations. Grain production was based on unpaid labour services by households equipped with the necessary draught animals for ploughing. In the production of wine, the dominant cash crop of Lower Austrian agriculture, wage labour relations were of major importance. In the seigneurial viticulture peculiar forms of remunerated corvée labour were established at the end of the sixteenth-century.1 It’s the aim of my paper to sketch the expansion of Lower Austrian manorial agriculture between 1550-1750 in quantitative terms, looking at urbarial records, tax assessments and accounting books. In a second step I want to reconstruct the different forms of labour arrangements in the cultivation of the seigneurial fields and vineyards and to discuss the perceptions of those labour relations in sources like instructions, correspondences or court records. This enables us to understand better how Lower Austrian landlords were able to enforce or negotiate corvée labour and what kind of limits or forms of resistance restricted their intentions. (Show less)

Göran Rydén : Female Work in Swedish Eighteenth Century Iron Making: a Concealed Aspect of Compulsory Labour
The labour history of metal-making have foremost been told in terms of skilled artisans making iron, steel, etc. It has been a story of mines, furnaces, forges and workshops, told in terms of how the global market structured division of labour and seasonality, and how authoritarian regimes enforced harsh working ... (Show more)
The labour history of metal-making have foremost been told in terms of skilled artisans making iron, steel, etc. It has been a story of mines, furnaces, forges and workshops, told in terms of how the global market structured division of labour and seasonality, and how authoritarian regimes enforced harsh working patterns and long working hours. This masculine sphere has been seen as a complex matrix of coerced labour, stretching from wage labour to feudal structures, and sometimes also related to slavery. Female labour has been conspicuously absent from these analysis. A reason for this absence has been a lack of sources, but also an reluctance to include ‘female participation’ in metal-making.

My ambition is to make amends, and stress the importance of female work to early-modern Swedish iron-making communities, or bruk. In this paper, I exploit previously unused sources to reveal the women’s concrete work, but also relate that to tasks performed by men as well as to insert it into the bruk’s overall structure and the demands from the global market. The empirical foundation, and the analysis, stems from a large micro-historical study of a few bruk in Uppland, presently being in the process of conclusion. (Show less)



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