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In consideration of my meagre circumstances: The language of poverty as a tool for ordinary people in early modern Sweden
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of History.
2016 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 40 credits / 60 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Petitions of different kinds are emerging as an increasingly used source for studies of early modern Sweden and beyond. Supplications offer historians great opportunities to examine claims coming from people of various backgrounds, and the larger complex of contemporary ideas these arguments were built on. In these documents, petitioners often bring up the issue of poverty. The purpose of the thesis has been to elucidate this language of poverty and the ideas and values behind its invocation, through studying how people described and used it in their communication with the County Administration of Uppsala between 1730 and 1734. The study has shown that statements of poverty were deployed by a large variety of people, but women were more prone to speak about it than men, especially in echelons above the peasantry. Poverty was used in several ways: to denote a subordinate relation in the social hierarchy, as an enhancer of plight or as something which was not deserved as the petitioners had fulfilled the duties expected of them. By calling themselves poor or emphasizing their blameless destitution, supplicants could ask for the County governor’s protection, try to establish themselves as deserving of help or invoke notions of Christian compassion. Behind the statements of poverty lay ideas of hierarchy and reciprocity set out in the Lutheran Table of Duties, which provided a base for the supplicants’ claims for help.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. , 109 p.
Keyword [en]
Poverty, poor, petition, Table of Duties, household culture, County Administration
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-294626OAI: diva2:930978
Available from: 2016-06-02 Created: 2016-05-26 Last updated: 2016-06-02Bibliographically approved

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