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Аделаида Сванидзе.   Ремесло и ремесленники средневековой Швеции (XIV—XV вв.)


A. A. Svanidze


The principal theme of the research is the industry of Sweden in the period of feudalism and on the eve of the appearance of manu-factories; the process of the separation of industry from agriculture and specific features of its development in the country; the part played by artisans and tradesmen in the social and economic structure of Sweden in the 14th — I5th centuries. The research deals with the main spheres of mediaeval Swedish industry. Taken with regard to the wide-spreadness of market and the forms of organizing labour, the spheres may be analysed as certain stages of industrial development, such as village handicraft, both domestic and special; town handicraft and specialized mining and metalurgy works. Thus the purpose of the i esearch is a study of social division of labour in industrial and social aspects and in its connection with the development of commodity relations. Various aspects of the problem, such as history of mining, towns, town handicraft and shops, coining, village handicraft, as well as history of trade, have been deeply and seriously studied mainly by Swedish historians. Yet it should be mentioned, that taken as a whole the problem of the development of Swedish industry in the 14th and 15th centuries has not been studied from a comparative historical point of view.

It should be noted, that trades, especially such as fishery, hunting (fur-trade mostly), charcoal burning, exploring and working metal ores etc, played a very important part in the life of Swedish village in the 14th and 15th centuries. The development of these trades stood in inverse proportion to (the development of agricultural production in certain regions and even in certain settlements of the country. Not only the trades whose produce went mostly to markets, but village handicraft as well was considerably of commodity charachter. First and foremost here should be mentioned wood-worki,ng; producing соoper-wood for town coopers, special wood for mines and various wood-ware; ship-building, especially that of minor ships and boats; potte-ry; smithery, armoury and tanning trade. One of the most important features of Swedesh village in the 14th and 15th centuries was a factually complete concentration of spinning and weaving in the village; and the rough home-made vadmal produced by bönder went not only-to town market but for export as well.

In that period the development of trades and handicraft bearing commodity character went along with the appearance in the village of specialized handicraft and the formation of a certain layer of artisans: furriers, tanners, saddlers, black-smiths, wheelwrights, tailors and shoe-makers. These were mostly engaged in handicraft, posse-ssed stable work-shops, travelled from village to village in search of customers and brought their produce to towns, competing with town aitisans. Besides that, the period under consideration was characteri-sed by springing up of villages and even groups of settlements wholly engaged in trade and handicraft. It should be mentioned also, that simultaneöus existance and intermingling in the Swedish village of that time of various phases or stages of the progress of specialized handicraft, from working raw materials for domestic purposes up to producing market goods, presented one of numerous signs of manifold economic structure typical of Swedish feudalism all through the his-tory of its development.

An important specific feature of the Swedish village of that time was that the bönder were being gradually more and more drawn into the process of commodity relations. The bönder showed themselves very active in the sphere of exchange, took part both in long distance and foreign trade. They exchanged their goods for the produce of various trades, handicraft and agriculture; bought and sold foodstaffs articles' öf clothing, household ware. The bönder were even, employed in mediate trade of imported goods, landzköp, buying them f.rorn foreign merchants and selling them in the distant parts of the country. They arranged fairs and markets in villages, especially on the South-East coast, and traded with one another and foreign merchants. The bönder even ventured to travel abroad, exporting their goods. Yet the main stream of Swedish export went through the crown and feudals, who got the goods in various rent forms. Town charts and other documents of the 14th and 15th centuries were full of bans, prohibiting the bönder's «unlawful» trade that went against the towns' interests.

The bönder trade was so regular, that for some of them it became principal occupation; even in the late 15th century, when Swedish towns acquired strength, professional merchants hadn't stopped coming from village midst. Representatives of lower property layers of the village proved to be especially active in mediate trade. Evident-ly the trading activities of village population, as well as domestic crafts, made a kind of «additional earnings» and depended not only on the principal direction of the economy of certain country areas, but also on-the extent of social and property differentiation of pea-sants. Yét at any rate, it was a very important phenomenon of the developing commodity relations in Sweden: It is not excluded that the bönder were much more than the class of feudals interested in transition to fixed money rents.

The wide spreading of trade and handicraft in the village hindered the growth of town population in Sweden. The calculation pro-ves that in the 15th century in Stockholm there lived about 8500 people; in Kalmar about 4500; in Jönköping as well as in Arboga about 2500, leaving alone the fact, that many towns numbered but a few hundred citizens. The influx of people coming from villages was the only source of increasing town population, but that was far from being sufficient. Village artisans were reluctant to move to towns,preferring village handicraft, which helped them avoid competition of imported goods, town requisitions, town and corporation regulations. The imflux of village people to fill the lower strata of town population was not large either. The slow process of social differentiation, a pos-sibility to have non-agricultural earnings or to acquire an independent position as a miner working a small mine of his own — all these slowed down the formation of the contingent of hired hands in towns. The top of the rich ruling burgherdom in the then Sweden was mostly recruited out of Germans coming from Hanseatic towns. In big cities, particularly in ports, the Germans represented a numerous part of top artisan layers. Yet the bulk of town population was Swedish.

The town population of Sweden at that time was not yet stable enough. Many artisans, even those possessing the burgher status and especially those employed in seasonal work, travelled from village to village in search of earnings.

The main bulk of self-acting town population of Sweaen consisted of artisans, people of professions connected with handicraft, and those hired for town industries. The distribution of these people in town economy branches was typical of mediaeval towns. The predominant group of artisans, from 40 to 70 per cent, were employed in producing articles of clothing, footwear, household ware, and the smaller the town, the larger was the group. On the contrary, such branches of town economy as house-building, ship-building and navigation, town transport, municipal economy and public catering developed most intensively in big cities and ports. But in all the Swedish towns the principal place in town industries was given first and foremost to serving personal needs of the population, then serving communal needs, and only then to producing things necessary for trade.

The professional contingent of town artisans and hired labourers was very complex. By the end of the 15th century the Swedish town knew over a hundred of various handicraft, trade and intermediate professions, the nomenclature depending on the size and economic profile of the town. The most developed branch of town industries was metal-working, including over 35 various professions and devided into a number of independent branches, such as smithery, locksmith-work, armoury and gunsmithery, melting, foundry, silversmith-work and coining. Leaving alone mints which practically represented state work-shops, the most developed from the view point of division of labour was the metal-working branch intended for military purposes. It included about five grades of division of labour and over ten composite professions.

A high grade of division of labour was achieved in the town woodworking industry—14 professions; tannery and shoe-making — 16 professions, house-building and shipbuilding — no less than 9 professions. The development of all these kinds of handicraft was based upon rich sources of raw materials, on the appearance of specialized mining and metallurgy. It was also connected wits the fact, that waterways played a very important part in the country's economy. The data concerning artisans employed in producing foodstaffs (over 10 professions), and agricultural work of citizens prove, that the latter was but of subsidiary character, and its volume depended on the industrial development of the town. An important group of town population, especially in ports, wer people, working for different kinds transport, in docks and warehouses: 11 professions.

A concrete analysis of the development of various branches of handicraft industries in Stockholm, Kalmar, Jönköping, Arboga and other towns shows, that though the spreading of handicraft and the character of the division of labour in these towns mere different, it was namely the industries that constructed the very base of all the Swedish mediaeval towns known to us from original sources; and the forms of the development of these industries were identital to those prevailing in the contemporary towns of Continental Europé.

The feature common to all the Swedish towns was underdeveloped character of a number of handicraft branches, such as weavling, household woodworking, tanning and pottery, as well as brewmg. That was caused both by a wide spreading of these trades in the village and by the important role played by Hanse interested in the export of raw materials and semi-manufactured goods, and in the import of such products as drapery, drinks and pottery goods. In accordance with the specific professional structure of Swedish town handicraft, the technological devision of labour in it showed primarily not in textile work, as it was typical of other European countries, but in metallurgy and in metal-working. A complete separation of certain technological operations occured rather seldom, and mostly at the first preparatory stages of production, bemg expressed not so much in a detailed division of operations inside the work-shop, as in appea-rance of specific professions. This helps us to better understand such particular features of Swedish manufactories of the late 16th and 17th centuries as the existence of small work-shops, the tenacity and wide spreading of scattered manufactory in textile industries etc.

The policy of artisans in the Swedish towns of the 14th and 15th centuries was quite typical of the Middle Ages: the core of it was struggle for a monopoly of handicraft production. It found expression in restricting new-comers, establishing control over handicraft production, and in attempts to achieve equal opportunities and norms of production and sale. Yet unlike most of the countries of the then Europé, free handicraft prevailed in the towns of Sweden, and the regulation of life and labour of artisans was exercised through the organs of municipal and central power. The domination of free handicraft may be explained by two interconneoted reasons: the possi-bility of successful development of handicraft in the village and the small number of town artisans. That is why free handicraft prevailed in small towns, while in big cities, especially in the branches repre-sented by a comparatively large number of artisans, there appeared craft corporations.

By the end of the 15th century craft corporations had appeared in the towns of Stockholm (15 corporations), Visby, Kalmar, Malmö, Västeros, Arboga, Ystad and Landskrona. The structure of Swedish craft corporations and the forms of their struggle for a monopoly of handicraft and trade were much the same as in the craft corporations of other mediaeval towns of Europé. The peculiar feature of Swedish craft corporations was the weakness of their autonomy, the predomi-nant character of municipal regulations, that was typical not only of such organisations, but of other bodies of the self-acting town population of the then Sweden. In the 14th and 15th centuries the corporations were struggling for extending their autonomy and achieved gieat success. While the corporations of Visby in the mid-fourteenth century enjoyed only the right to control the work öf the corporation members with the help of two «headmasters» accountable to magistra-cy, the Stockholm corporations of the late 15th century fully controlled and regulated the corporation inner life, such as hiring hands, in particular. Yet they failed to gain the same power concerning the spheres directly connected with market, such as regulation of the quality of goods and their sale. It should be noted that state and mu-nicipal control prevailed even at the manufaotories of the 16th and 17th centuries.

The pre-dominant character of free handicraft in most of the Swedish towns, as well as favourable conditions for its development in the village resulted in that, that corporations very often united but the wealthiest artisans. The same circumstances slowed up the Гог-mation of corporation monopoly of handicraft, prevented the corporations from acquiring seoluded character and in the long run, alоng with the highly developed professional differentiatdon, certainly promo-ted the early formation of manufactories.

As to its economic structure, the town handicraft of Sweden in the 14th and 15th centuries was of a typically feudal character. A work-shop owner, or master, combined the functions of proprietor, labourer and organizer of production. The latter was small and scattered, its material basis remamed primitive and poor, unseparable from the art-isans household possess ions. The skill of the master was of utmost importance, coming from- father to son. This hindered producer's mo-bility, bringing up a stabilization of his professional and social station.

Working time was very cheap. T.he earnings of an artisan amoun-ted to the average of 40 or 50 m. per year which gave him a possi-bility to make a living for himself and his family, but did not allow of any more of less considerable savings. As the primitive teohnique did not stimulate any investments m the means of production, exten-sion of production was possible on,Iy through additional use of labour. At an a.rtisan's work-sihop that might be achieved through the institution of apprenticeship. Apprentices in general possessed rather a high skill. They and their master formed in the work-shop a kind of technological co-operation, which helped to increase productivity of labour. Yet, apprentices were scanty and comparatively well-paid, the-refiore in most cases hiring apprentice did not insure profit, but helped to secure the independent station of the work-shop. It was not a mere chance, that the number of apprentices was greater in big foreign-trading towns with more developed märkets and sharper competition.

Exploitation of apprentices bore a hidden, patriarchal character, non-economic complusion- being very strong; money relations were far from being the only form of relations in the work-shop. But in most cases the apprentice was expected to make a future master and thus belonged to the same social midst. Therefore economic demands of apprentices did not overcome narrow professional corporation limits. A special layer of town artisanry was represented by learners, who were often employed as «consealed» apprentices. Yet, on the whole, the Swedish town handicraft of the late 15th century was characterized by skilled labour; the master was the principal figure in the process of production; the use of hired labour had not become a system and did not cause a regular extension of production.

Another form of hired labour in town handicraft, and in the sphere of house-building in particular, was hiring unskilled hands,such as day-labourers (dagswerke, dagakarlar, arbedes folk). Day-labourers were quite a special kind of contingent socially, though quite inconsiderable in number and unstable in its structure. Compul-sion was also wrought upon them, confirmed by royal statutes-con-cerning the so called lösa män, yet in towns the compulsion was much weaker, than at mines and other works. The correlation of the wages of masters and day-labourers made the average of 1:2 or 1 : 3, which was defined by the then situation favourable for unskilled labour. And here as well the use of hired labour was caused by ne-cessity and did not considerably increase profits.

It is obvious that possibilities of extended reproduction in town handicraft were rather limited, which was probably caused by the character of the town market of that time and the role of handicraft there. Only a few branches of town handicraft found their way to free market, and only armourers got considerable possibilities of sale abroad. The principal market for town handicraft was the town itself and its vicinity. And even in this limited area the artisans were facing com,-petition of foreign goods, which restricted their possibilities. Though free sale was typical of almost all the handicraft branches, work to order presented an important part of the whole production. In certain branches, it especially concerned builders and riggers, work to order in fact turned into hired labour, though organized according to-cor--poration principles.

Systematic fulfilment of big orders, government or municipal orders in particular, brought certan changes to organization of labour in some branches of town industries. In house-building it showed in springing up of selskap, representing a complex system of labour co-operation: it was based both upon quantitative division of skilled labour, and on technological division of labour of different skill and piofile. These selskaper were temporary, and broke up after fulfilling a certain order. But there are facts showing that by the end of ,the 15th century such selskap had acquired contractors.

It was abo rather typical for the time, that several branches of town handkraft, servimg mostly of state, such as coining, gun-smi-thery and, possibly, ship-building, in the late 15th century were organized as state manufactories, with hired labourers and a contractor — an undertaker standing between the labourers and the customer, usu-ally represented by the Crown. But even here visible features of non~-economic compulsion may be easily traced through the system" of hiring.

An important branch of Swedish economy reaching far back to the 13th century was mining. It represented a combination of thr.ee trades: ore, iron-and-steel, and fuel. Moreover, it was not only territorial, but also organizational combination. Social relations in Bergslagen were based on regal land property, the so called grundregalen, which gave the Crown the right to collect duty in kind for the mines, and concentrato in its hands the control over industrial and social life in Bergslagen.

The mining trade was arranged on a dual basis. On the one hand, it was founded on land property and retained the forms of exploita-tion characteristic of feudal economy (alienation of land rent). Besides, an important role was played by petty land property of actual producers whose ownership in a number of cases was incomplete. They were able to hold the property by their personal labour and by free disposal of this labour's produce, on condition of observance of the grundregalen. On the other hand, free enterprise in the mining trade was comparatively developed. Independent mästermannen were coun-ter-vailed by a mass of skilled hired workers and daylabourers. An intricate system of social and property gradation existed there among the owner-miners. Only a handful of master-miners at the top of this ladder, living by exploitation of hired labour, could be called «owners» in the proper sense of the word. The overwhelming majority of the mästermannen were small holders in the mines and smelting facto-ries, and worked their own plots, alithough sometimes they could act as contractors. Therefore, the position of small masters was contra-dictory. An important role in the mining trade was played by the work of independent petty owners, the so called bondebergsmannen, who mined their own land, and also by utbrukare, prospecting for ores on rented plots and starting small mines of their own. This points to the incomplete development of specialized mining industry m the late 15th century, resulting from the manifold nature of the economic system in mediaeval Sweden.

The burgher element was very strong in the mining trade, represented in particular by professional merchants engaged in the export of metal and by those who formed the bulk of the contingent of mine-owners. Among these were also feudal lords and the royal family, who often owned enterprises and were engaged in metal-export. These forms of ownership presented in the organization of the mining trade, and the organic merging of top mme-owners and bearers of trade capiital signifies the appearance of certain elements of early capitalist relations in the Swedish mining itrade in the löth century.

The structure of the craft, the number of the owners among feudal lords and burghers, the important role of free bönder, as well as the compulsory character of hired labour and the importance of ore trade for enhancing the power of the Crown and the economic development of the country,— all this convincingly testifies to the signi-ficance of Bergslagen in Swedish mediaeval history. It also shows the specific national character of the development of the Swedish ore-mining trade, its organic connection with the whole history of the country. The heterogenous social structure of the craft, peculiar to the initial period in the genesis of capitalist relations in general, and also the considerable role of proprietor element among the direct producers in Bergslagen, gave rise to certain specific forms of social biruggle in the area. The struggle was directed chiefly against the regal government; it was waged in the name of better working condi-tions and democratization of the Bergslagen administration. Yet, it was also partly directed against employers and in the end acquired the form of a national movement, that found its expression in the political events of the 30s of the 15th century.

There is no doubt that both economically and socially the ore-mining trade represented the most developed branch in Sweden in the 14th and 15th centuries, which resulted from Smeden's having in-lernational märket for its metal. Yet the level of Bergslagen's development should not be overestimated. The incomplete character of spe-cialization of the trade; the important part taken in it by petty non-hired labour and petty property; the half-compulsory nature of hired labour and patriarchal forms of payment,— all this, leaving alone regalorganization of mining, shows that by the end of the 15th century the nature of the Swedish ore-mining trade was essentially feudal.

The comparison of the character of town handicraft and that of ore-mining trade reveals their economic and social resemblance. They did not represent any essentially different spheres of Sweden's economy in the 14th and 15th centuries, but only constituted different sta-ges of organization in its feudal industries, whose differences were defined not only by the character of märket, but by peculiar features of labour itself.

A study of problems of mdustrial history in the mediaeval epoch, when «village reigned over town», cannot alone present a clue for understanding all the specific sides of the then social system as a whole: it helps to elucidate but a few of its typical features. Thus, it may be supposed that bönder's multi-branch economy ensured their economic independence, slowed down the development of certain forms of personal dependence, braked up the formation of the class structure of the country and helped direct producers to retain their importance in social and political life of Sweden. A wide spreading of «additional earnings» throughout the village, as well as the development of specialized handicraft and trade for a time slowed down, the influx of people in t o towns, but in the 16th and 17th centuries the same circumstances caused appearance of new towns on the sites of «industrial» settlements and intensified commodity-money relations in the country.

The growth of town handicraft and ore-mining trade, their commencing social transformation, the trading activity of bönder, as well as that of the class of feudals and the crown, characterize the 14th and 15th centuries as the time of the Swedish economy being intensively drawn into the sphere of commodity relations, which evi-dently was of no small importance for the political liberation of the country. Its economic development was intensified by the fact that there was no sharp contradiction between the progress of commodity relations and the natural economy of feudalism. It might be possible in the 14th and 15th centuries due to the fact, that the part of duty paid in kind as well as that of alienated unpaid labour was in Sweden comparatively small, and besides that, because most of thus alienated produce went to märket.

On the other hand, the transformation of the social and economic structure of Swedish society in the 14th and 15th centuries, and even låter, went slower than it might be expected, that with the devaliop-memt of internal märket and foreign trade. This may be probably ex-plained by the inner stability of the economic structure of the then Sweden, a«d first and foremos.t, of the economic structure of Sweden's village, where petty agriculture was combined with domestic crafts.

Translation made hy I. M. Bessmertnay.
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