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Inför högsta instans: Samspelet mellan kvinnors handlingsutrymme och rättslig reglering i Justitierevisionen 1760–1860
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of History.
2016 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
Facing the Highest Legal Authority : The Interplay between Female Agency and Legal Regulation in Sweden 1760–1860 (English)
Abstract [en]

The aim of this dissertation is to illuminate the interplay between female agency and legal regulation in Sweden during the period 1760-1860. The material chosen for the study relates to matters concerning women that were brought before the Judiciary Inspection, the highest legal authority in Sweden. From its central position in the state hierarchy, this court was an arena in which the central power could identify and find solutions to problems important for the stability and development of society.

The study identifies issues that encouraged women to bring proceedings before the court, or prompted other parties to bring women to court. The dissertation has analysed the actions taken and arguments made in these cases by women, their counterparts, and court representatives, in relation to the regulations or the absence of regulations in each particular situation. This has shown the room for manoeuvre that could be achieved, and how the women could achieve it – in terms of right to manage property, economic agency and debt responsibility, finding ways to support themselves and their families, or affirming their positions as mothers and mistresses of households. In this way, the dissertation illuminates the freedom of agency in practice that has often been seen as contradictory in a strictly patriarchal society like early modern Sweden.

The dissertation also traces some important changes over time, including the increasingly diverse class background of litigants over the period in question, shifts in understandings of property, work, family, and the meaning of legal majority. The central diachronic claims are firstly that the legal system shifted over time from one primarily based upon status, circumstance, and local opinion to one based on formalized understanding of the law founded upon contract and clear legal definitions, and that this had important implications for women’s room for manoeuvre in the courts and in society. Secondly, that the negotiation process contributed to historical change by forcing solutions to contradictions and specifying terms of property ownership and legal majority.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2016. , 243 p.
Studia Historica Upsaliensia, ISSN 0081-6531 ; 255
Keyword [en]
early modern, female litigation, gender, law, legal change, marital rights, property, 18th century, 19th century, Supreme court, Sweden, women, women's legal majority, women's trading rights
Keyword [sv]
Justitierevisionen, Högsta domstolen, Kvinnors myndighet, kvinnors näringsrätt, äktenskap, egendom, rättslig förändring, tidigmodern, 1700-tal, 1800-tal, Sverige
National Category
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-281877ISBN: 978-91-554-9537-4 (print)OAI: diva2:916342
Public defence
2016-05-20, Geijersalen (Eng/6-1023), Campus Engelska parken, Thunbergsvägen 3H, Uppsala, 13:15 (Swedish)
Available from: 2016-04-28 Created: 2016-03-30 Last updated: 2016-05-12

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