Huvudgårdar och herravälden: En studie av småländsk medeltid

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)

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This dissertation focuses on the medieval nobility and its manors in the inland of Småland. The problems tackled in the dissertation may be divided into two major complexes. One concerns the emergence and growth of the Småland nobility in a long-term perspective, the second concerns the spatial conditions in which the nobles established their manors in the landscape. An important question concerns the castle-building activities of the nobility and the fortification of their manors. The actual object of the study is the noblemen’s manors, which may be regarded as a social centre in the landscape from where local lordship was exercised.
There seem to have been at least 250 manors in the area. The majority of them appear to have existed for a relatively short time. Alongside these short-lived manors there were others that seem to have existed as local centres of power throughout the Middle Ages. By studying the distribution of different elements in the medieval churches in the area, such as towers, vaults, stone treatment and decoration, and the distribution of runestones and weapon graves from the Late Iron Age, it is shown that local lordship in the Late Middle Ages can be associated on a structural level with the local magnates who were involved in the building of Romanesque stone churches in the Early Middle Ages and the raising of runestones in the Viking Age. This structural continuity had its foundation in the socio-economic conditions in the area.
At about sixty places in the study area there are remains that can be characterized as castles or fortified manors, mainly built in the fourteenth century. By studying how these often weakly fortified manors were located in the landscape in relation to other buildings and cultivated land, it is possible to show that they were not remains of ordinary farms. The spatial position of the farms was used as a way for the owner to consolidate his social status. The “fortifications” seems to have been as much social demarcations as military fortifications. The significance of the social space at medieval manors is shown by studies of how individual fortified manors were spatially organized. One can thereby see how the nobility, even at the level of the farm, used spatial strategies to assert and reproduce their lordship.
The large number of nobles in the area can be viewed as a deliberate strategy whereby the king could assert his lordship over a peripheral area. The king’s strategies for the exercise of power, however, would have been ineffective if there had not been men who were prepared to serve as knights. Establishing oneself as a noble in a manor was a social act which was performed from an actor’s perspective. A great number of men were prepared to take the step to establish themselves as nobles and meet the demands made by the king. There was therefore a structure in the area which encouraged peasants to become nobles.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Historical Archaeology
  • Andersson, Hans, Supervisor
Award date2001 Apr 27
ISBN (Print)91-22-01910-3
Publication statusPublished - 2001

Bibliographical note

Defence details

Date: 2001-04-27
Time: 10:15
Place: Carolinasalen

External reviewer(s)

Name: Kyhlberg, Ola
Title: Professor
Affiliation: Uppsala universitet


Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Archaeology

Free keywords

  • Middle Ages
  • nobility
  • lordship
  • manors
  • churches
  • runic stones
  • social space


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