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Gutsherrschaft und untertäniges Gewerbe: die Herrschaften Frýdlant und Liberec in Nordböhmen

Markus Cerman
Jahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas
Neue Folge, Bd. 47, H. 1, Themenschwerpunkt: Magnaten und ländliches Gewerbe (1999), pp. 2-19
Published by: Franz Steiner Verlag
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41050282
Page Count: 18
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Gutsherrschaft und untertäniges Gewerbe: die Herrschaften Frýdlant und Liberec in Nordböhmen
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Abstract

The role of noble landowners in the proto-industrial and industrial development of the Czech lands has been a focus of continuos historical research. Scholars, however, have concentrated on manufactories and other enterprises of the noble landowners and have not investigated the relationship between the feudal system and the industrial activities of their serfs. This study investigates in detail the example of the Northern Bohemian estates of Frýdlant and Liberec in which a proto-industrial linen production developed in the late sixteenth century. Feudal lords helped to establish contacts between foreign merchants and local producers, but did not engage directly in production or trade. Their role was limited to providing a legal framework or to acting as intermediaries in cases of disagreement between rural and urban producers or between producers and merchant capital. Basically, feudal overlords controlled and granted permission for the proto-industrial activities of the subject population and extracted certain fees, such as dues from each loom in operation, on the basis of extra-economic coercion. As important as these signs of feudal power were on a symbolic level, the economic contribution of these types of dues to the feudal overlords' income was negligible. Detailed analysis shows that the main source of revenue for the feudal lord was not direct earnings from feudal rents or industrial enterprises, but rather income from feudal market monopolies (over beer, agricultural products and industrial raw materials), which the lords' rural subjects were legally compelled to purchase from the lords' demesne operations. Despite a fully developed demesne economy and a fully established system of hereditary serfdom, the feudal system and subject proto-industrial activities did not form a contradiction in Frýdlant and Liberec, but represented an integrated economic system.

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