Kungen, fogdarna och riket : Lokalförvaltning och statsbyggande under tidig Vasatid

Sammanfattning: The growth of the 16th century Swedish state is studied through the local organization created by Gustavus Vasa. The state is viewed as an organization, a collective agent, which may function as a formidable instrument of power for those who can control it. The inspiration comes from Max Weber as well as theories on how modern firms come to exist and expand their activities.The main issue is to explain why Gustavus Vasa and his successors created a wide-embracing local organization run by the state. In most parts of Europe, the princes tried to strengthen their positions by acting through noble officials on the provincial level. In Sweden royal bailiffs took over the responsibility for the tax collection in the entire realm. These bailiffs were the only intermediates between the king and his subjects. This flat, non-hierarchical structure meant that the Swedish nobility in effect was left outside the royal administration.In the first years of the reign of Gustavus Vasa mobilization of political support was given top priority, as the new regime needed to establish its legitimacy. The civil administration also performed important military functions. In the years around 1540, the local organization co-operated with the district courts in compiling records on the tax-base of the realm. As the political situation stabilized, and the central government gained access to information on local resources, the state expanded its activities into new areas. Under the entrepreneurial leadership of Gustavus Vasa the bailiffs took over operations that had previously been performed within civil society. As a result, the local administration had to grow. After 1560 this expansion stopped, and the state administration instead became more differentiated. But the local bargaining between bailiffs and peasantry was still of great importance. It added an important dimension of flexibility to the system.This study also addresses the relationship between the royal bailiffs and the peasantry. The bailiffs often used harsh methods, but peasants' complaints could prove worth while, and there was room for acting out conflicts within the system. From the reign of Gustavus Vasa, a line of communication was opened between king and peasants, which helped increase the legitimacy of state government while at the same time securing access to first-hand information about local circumstances. The Swedish state thus was able to mobilize resources and political support for its activities on a lower level in society than most of its competitors could. The significance of this state building in local society is strongly emphasized in this dissertation.