Marriages, Dowries and Property Systems in 17-19th Century Rural Finland

Beatrice Moring, University of Helsinki

Modern western society has been criticized as a place where people know the price of everything but the value of nothing. One could perhaps suggest that rural Scandinavia was the pole opposite. In these societies the people knew the value of everything but only some goods went to the market and generated an exact price (or was allocated one when part of criminal proceedings). Property of considerable value, or access to property, was transmitted between generations and between families in connection with marriages. The aim of the presentation is to analyze the process of marriage and economic transfers between families and individuals. The inclusion or exclusion of land and nature and value of the dowry (animals, textiles, money) will be discussed, as will the economic promises relating to the dower and the nature of engagement gifts. The position of male and female children and their inheritance rights in rural versus urban society will be illuminated, as well as the timing of property and monetary transfers. In addition the presentation will address the question of interaction in the shape of contributions by the local community and gifts between family members in the run up to the wedding and during the wedding. The main sources for the study are court records, inventories, visitation protocols and oral history information.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 6. Love and Marriage? Material Considerations and Couple Formation in the Past