Peasant households in East Central Sweden in late 18 th and early

Mats Morell
Adaptations to crises and weather related harvest fluctuations:
Peasant households in East Central Sweden in late 18th and early
19th century
Through case studies of three households, well documented in diaries and land survey acts
this paper discusses how late 18th and 19th century Scandinavian farm households acted in
response to, or in anticipation of, weather related harvest fluctuations. Regional and national
data on weather, harvests and prices are used as well as parish level data. I am interested in
whether (and if so how) households managed to adapt their land-use, so it could offer the
ecosystem services needed, without evocating ecological or social imbalances threatening
further functioning of the land-use pattern or the social survival of the household, but also the
extent to which they had routinized strategies to recover from great imbalances imposed upon
them by weather related crises. The studied households are located the northern part of the
Lake Mälaren area characterized by surplus production of rye and barley marketed in the
nearby iron producing district. By the mid-19th century oats emerged as an important crop
both for sales and as on-farm-fodder in a dairy economy, which expanded by the late 19th
century. The area is not particularly fragile, but there is a tendency for drought in early
summers, which increased the risks of fodder shortages. Two households are studied before
the radical enclosures in the early 19th century. One is studied after the radical enclosures,
which dissolved the village as a collaborating entity, with open fields, common pastures and
common forestland.