Gods och landskap : Jordägande, bebyggelse och samhälle i Östergötland 1000-1562

Sammanfattning: This study examines landownership structures and settlement during the Middle Ages in the province of Östergötland in Sweden. It departs from a critical approach to the established view of social structure and property in the Scandinavian medieval society.The investigations are made at two levels. The first level is a cross section of the mid 16th century. This investigation shows that lay aristocrats and ecclesiastical institutions controlled most of the land, especially in the core areas of the parishes. The second level is a detailed investigation at the farm level in six parishes starting from the middle of the 16th century and working retrogresively to the early Middle Ages. This study shows that the landowning structure of the 16th century can be traced back to about AD 1300. For the early Middle Ages reconstructions are made through inheritance successions and genealogies of the aristocratic families. These reconstructions show that, in some parishes, most of the land was probably controlled by a few very rich families or dynasties during the early Middle Ages. The results lead to a question about the Viking Age and medieval society in general. This question is answered in a hypothesis stressing the development of the concept of land ownership in combination with the development of the land tenure system as one of the important factors for reproduction of local power during the Viking Age and early Middle Ages.