Financing Transfers. Buying, Exchanging, and Inheriting Properties in Early Modern Southern Tyrol

Janine Maegraith, University of Vienna

The lively debate around early modern European land markets include questions about the involvement of kinship networks as well as a possible link between land transfers and rural credit. In context of our project “The Role of Wealth in Defining and Constituting Kinship Spaces” I could identify not only proceedings settling post mortem successions, but also a high frequency of commercial land transactions in the court district of Sonnenburg. Some of the inheritance and purchase contracts have one thing in common: they are financed by a transfer of existing debts secured on the transferred land. This leads to the question of affordability: who was able to participate in this early modern “market”? For, even succession involved taking over existing debts and facing new obligations with the compensation payments of siblings. But with data from the court books, the proportion between commercial and inheritance transfers and the composition of the participants can only partially be reconstructed, since not all succession decisions and terms of payment were written down in the court books. In this paper, I will complement the limited quantitative data with case studies that show the entanglement of commercial and succession related transfers to address the question of who had access to transfers. Similar to other central European results, I suggest that this access reflected opportunity as well as necessity and created flexibility for the participants – but not for all.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 167. Modes of Transfer