Peasants' labour obligations for the lords' forests: another form of corvée in the Gutsherrschaft of Prussian monarchs, 1763–1850
Demesne lords (Gutsherren) in early modern Brandenburg-Prussia often owned and managed sizable forests besides their demesne farms. In royal domain lordship, while peasants' corvée for demesne farms prevailed from the sixteenth century to 1799, corvée for royal forests only began in the late eighteenth century, when the authorities began to reform the management of the forests, switching from natural to artificial regeneration. Peasants gave their forest labour in return for their long-established entitlements to receive building timber from royal forests and, to retain these rights, often continued to undertake it until the mid-nineteenth century. Some peasants became independent of the royal forests by creating their own woodlands and readily ended their obligation to do forestry service. Thus, the peasants' accommodation to the new corvée did not arise from their subordination to lords' oppression, as assumed in traditional research, but their calculation of self-advantage in a reciprocal relationship with their lords.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: June 1, 2019
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