Exploring the Mores of Mining: The oeconomy of the Great Copper Mine, 1716–1724

  • Datum:
  • Plats: Hörsal 2, Ekonomikum, Kyrkogårdsgatan 10, Uppsala
  • Doktorand: Widmalm, Hedvig
  • Om avhandlingen
  • Arrangör: Ekonomisk-historiska institutionen
  • Kontaktperson: Widmalm, Hedvig
  • Disputation

This thesis closely examines the Great Copper Mine in Falun in the first two decades of the eighteenth century. It uses a micro-historical approach to investigate the economic discourse of agrarian oeconomy, a complex idea tied to the early modern agrarian society.

The implementation of a series of economic reforms in 1716 and the subsequent Royal Commission in 1724 form the key sources studied here. Part of this also includes a close reading of the words of Anders Swab, the Mine Inspector, and those who argued against his reforms.

The first three chapters introduce the methods and theories. Chapter 4 concerns the discussions surrounding the reforms. This chapter is based on the protocols of the Board of Mines, the Swedish body for governing mines and metalworks. Although the chapter uses primary source material, it provides context for understanding the materials of the Royal Commission of 1724.

The investigation of the Royal Commission is at the centre this study. The Commission was started due to a series of petitions that were sent to the Swedish Diet by the people of Falun in 1723. The Diet then created a commission, whose officials read petitions, and collected information relating to the complaints. After this material was reviewed, the commissioners called the various groups who had petitioned, and questioned them about their complaints. They also confronted Swab, the architect behind the reforms, with their findings. Through a close reading of the petitions, the associated material, and the protocols of the Commission, this thesis investigates how groups on various levels of hierarchy discussed oeconomy. The unique social structure of the Great Copper Mine meant that it was difficult to implement the economic ideals of agrarian oeconomy. The results show how economic discourse changed depending on the status of actors in the household economy, as well as how the actors were able to use their status to further their causes. The micro-historical perspective illuminates how complex, yet contradictory the structure of the household economy was. It was meant to uphold a static hierarchy, yet it still granted a relative agency to disempowered groups within it.