Småstadens dynamik. Skänninges och Vadstenas befolkning och kontaktfält ca 1630-1660
Sammanfattning: The purpose of this thesis is to modify the image of pre-industrial towns as towns of minor importance, i.e. passive and with low population and agrarian economical structure. The questions linked to the theoretical problem of this study are derived from these arguments. The towns studied here are Skänninge and Vadstena, situated in the inner region of southern Sweden in the province of Östergötland, two towns that have been considered marginal, at least from the 17th century onward. The first main question of the study concerns the urban demography and addresses the quantity and the structure of the urban population. By using different sorts of sources, such as tax registers, council records and municipality registers and letters from individuals to the authorities, it has been possible to produce some results that stand in sharp contrast to prior research. The modified population figures in Vadstena and in Skänninge alter the traditional image of these towns, both in respect to their size and social composition. The greatest contrast to prior research concerns the craftsmen, which raises the interesting question of how important small towns were for the development of pre-industrial technology.In the mid-17th century there were numerous national institutions based in Vadstena and its role as an administrative and military centre is thus clearly illustrated. A great number of people were linked to these institutions and accordingly they accounted for an important part of the population. Skänninge lacked such national institutions, and this accounted for a very important difference between these towns.Also the second main issue of the study of the 'social interface' has lead to a number of important conclusions. The 'social interfaces' which are registered in this study had a wide geographical range but it is also proven that the contacts were related to nearly all socio-economical categories in Sweden at that time. Tradition requires the historians to study the problem from the central power's viewpoint. If one chooses a local perspective instead and takes an introspective look at the towns, one will find that they were less static than argued by prior research. Rather, they were distinguished by a dynamic character which appears to be an exiting field of research.
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