Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Episode 33: Economic development in the 18th century

In the early 18th century the dominant economic theory was mercantilism - simply put the idea that import should be limited and thus that national production must grow. The idea meant state support for manufactures, and indirectly that jews and (later) catholics were allowed to immigrate if they were deemed to have a beneficial imfluence on the state's economy.

Later in the century new ideas turned focus to agriculture, to improve the productivity by reforms initiated and supported from above. In the mid 18th century laws on redistribution of land were put forward. The medieval village structure where farmers held some land in common and had their fields in narrow strips all over the village lands were now to be transformed. Each farm should have larger and fewer fields, easier to till without the entire village being involved. Farmhouses were moved to the new farmlands, and the closely built village of old was no more. Although the changes did in most parts of the country not take place until the next century.

At the royal castle Drottningholm, king Adolf Fredrik and queen Lovisa Ulrika supported the idea of national production by building "Canton", a manufacturing community specialised in production of things like lace and silk. The house to the left was the silk manufacture - but the production wasn't a success since the silkworms didn't really like Swedish climate.