Profiles

Bo Franzén

Universitetslektor

Visa sidan på svenska
Works at Department of Economic History
Telephone 08-16 47 92
Email bo.franzen@ekohist.su.se
Visiting address Universitetsvägen 10 A, plan 9
Room A 928
Postal address Ekonomisk-historiska institutionen 106 91 Stockholm

Publications

A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 2015. Bo Franzén. Långa linjer och många fält, 81-92

    The article is inspired by an idea from Eli Heckscher that the Viking Age in Sweden was followed by a long period of economic decline. That sugestion looks plausible when studing monetary conditions 800-1200.

  • 2015. Bo Franzén. Järnet och Sveriges medeltida modernisering, 47-74

    This essay scrutinizes Swedish legislation 1220-1360 from an institutional economic point of view inspired inter alia by Douglass C. North. Several books of law for different counties (sw. landskapslagar), as well as other kind of legislation, were worked out during the period and it was claimed that they were drafted to meet a changing society. My conclusion is that the real purpose was the opposite, i.e. that the upper strata tried to change society through legislation. In general were economic institutions hostile to a free exchange in favour of several compulsory institutions as slavery and serfdom, with the remarkable exception of the Town Law (sw. Stadslagen) in the 1350's that points in a modernizing direction. I've also come to the conclusion that the famous Swedish mining sector (sw. bergsbruket) came into being in spite of the ruling aristocratic classes. Much more was it a creation of gentile men and women witch in the fifteenth century contributed to the formation of two new estates in the Swedish parliament, burghers and peasants.

  • 2015. Rodney Edvinsson, Bo Franzén. Historisk Tidskrift (S) 135 (3), 377-400

    Föreliggande uppsats analyserar framväxten av ett formellt penningväsende i Sverige 995–1525. Ett av de tidigaste tecknen på monetarisering inträffade under andra halvan av 1200-talet och innebar att betalningar i bevarade källor huvudsakligen anges i mynt som räknats i stället för att vägas. Skillnaden mellan ett mynts nominella värde och dess värde som silver utgjordes av slagskatt. Myntförsämringen under 1300- och 1400-talen motverkades av att silvrets köpkraft ökade kraftigt.

  • 2014. Bo Franzén. Historisk Tidskrift (S) 4, 742-745
  • 2013. Bo Franzén. Ekonomisk Debatt 41 (1), 56-59

    Denna recension av två illustrerade numismatiska arbeten är penningteoretiskt och ekonomisk-historiskt inriktad. De två vetenskapliga verken bygger i huvudsak på numismatisk forskning. Enkelt uttryckt fördjupar de den tidigare bilden av ett i Väst-Europas utkant arkaiskt Sverige i ekonomiskt bakvatten 995-1290. Det gäller även vid vid en jämförelse med det samtida Norge och Danmark - två riken vars monetära system dessa intressanta arbeten också uppehåller sig vid.

  • 2013. Bo Franzén. Historisk Tidskrift (S) (4), 723-726
  • 2012. Bo Franzén. Svenska Dagbladet okt 7 (Under strecket), 21-21
  • 2011. Bo Franzén. NAFS (k)uriren (40), 4-7

    This small essay claims that the famous cartoonist Carl Barks sometimes made use of fundamental economic ideas when he wrote his fairy tales. Those ideas are always subordinated to the telling of the story and the economic inspiration ranges from micro economics that money in itself is not wealth (e.g. Adam Smith & Eli Heckscher) to macro economics as supply chocks and money illusion (e.g. John M. Keynes).

  • 2011. Bo Franzén. Organizing History, 297-313
  • 2011. Bo Franzén. Historisk Tidskrift (S) 131 (3), 621-630
  • 2011. Bo Franzén. Svenska Dagbladet 9/8 2011
  • 2010. Bo Franzén. Med hammare och fackla XLI, 41-62

    Syftet med denna uppsats är att undersöka möjligheterna att rekonstruera de ekonomiska förutsättningarna kring den avancerade järnproduktionen under svensk högmedeltid cirka 1150-1350. Den klassiska ekonomisk-historiska forskningens insikter i den primitiva handelns karaktäristika (Eli Heckscher) utgör en startpunkt, medan ett modernt komplement till detta klassiska synsätt utgörs av den så kallade institutionella ekonomiska ansatsen (Douglass North). Det senare sätter i fokus de regelverk som underlättar respektive motverkar det fria bytet nyttigheter människor emellan, med andra ord marknader. Även det medeltida svenska källmaterialet tas upp till behandling, inklusive tidigare forskningsrön kring svenskt järn och dess finansiering, det vill säga de äldsta spåren av det historiskt ryktbara förlagssystemet. Mest rör dessa senmedeltiden (1350-1527), men lagar och stadgor 1220-1360 föreslås kunna utgöra objekt för en framtida fördjupande studie av den ekonomiska miljö av möjligheter och hinder som de första masugnarna uppstod i. Också frågan om fördelningen mellan fast och rörligt kapital tarvar att undersökas utifrån de fragment av järn- och hyttpriser som idag står oss till buds.

  • 2010. Rodney Edvinsson, Bo Franzén, Johan Söderberg. Exchange Rates, Prices, and Wages, 1277-2008, 67-132
  • 2009. Bo Franzén.

    In Medieval Sweden, we find that archaic compulsory institutions, such as slavery and serfdom, were not abolished until the middle of the fourteenth century. They, as well as other customs and rules, were a detriment to the development of more numerous and extensive markets. In spite of these signs of economic backwardness, we have good reason to believe that the trends, in the loose federation of provinces that preceded the Swedish nation-state, were in the direction of a greater degree of freedom and increased exchange of free will (i.e. labour and real property markets). The purpose of this study is to examine the Swedish charters by quantitative means, to see how these trends are mirrored by the representation of trading towns versus rural areas, and the percentage of the names of women that appear as first issuer of these charters. Other variables are also applied, e.g. geographical and prosopographic variables. A database (SDhk) published by the National Archives of Sweden contains summaries of more than 39,000 charters from, or attached to, Medieval Sweden, which have been converted into a so called relational database.

    The above mentioned trends generally point upwards. More and more charters were being drawn up in towns until the middle of the fourteenth century, ending with an average urban representation of more than 50%. Generally, the urbanization of early Swedish society seems to have been at its highest point in the last quarter of the thirteenth century. This period appears to parallel the most intense period of emancipation of Swedish slaves, reminding us that the many new towns in Western Europe were characterized by the use of free labour. In the Late Middle Ages, however, the rising urban trend is broken, which here is seen, as an indication that the densely populated towns were more severely hit by the Black Death in the years 1350-1450. The slight relative decrease in urban charters in the fifteenth century can be interpreted as a sign of a higher economic interest in agriculture among the upper strata of Swedish society. There are also interesting geographical differences, showing that Sweden in many ways was a typical feudal (i.e. decentralized) realm. The southern part of Sweden – Götaland – appears to have had an edge in development compared to the northern part of Sweden – Svealand – but the latter part seems to have diminished that gap from the late thirteenth century, up to the Swedish Reformation in the year 1527.

    Across the Middle Ages we find an increasing number of women among the first issuers of Swedish charters. The fact that there were some reversals in this rising trend, particularly in times of civil war, does not change the overall impression of a continually greater acceptance of Medieval Swedish women as active participants in public life. If the new protestant faith meant a step backwards in the process of emancipation, as some scholars have argued was the case in Western Europe, this study does not support the notion of a Medieval patriarchal forerunner.

  • 2009. Bo Franzén. Agrarhistoria på många sätt, 73-86
  • 2009. Bo Franzén. Scandinavian Economic History Review 57 (1), 108-109
  • 2008. Bo Franzén. Jordvärderingssystem från medeltiden till 1600-talet
  • 2008. Bo Franzén. Historisk Tidsskrift (DK) 108 (2), 574-580
  • 2006. Bo Franzén.

    The Monetary System of the Folkunga Era / The Swedish Pence between Pestilence and Patriarchate 1254–1370

    This is an economic study of the Swedish monetary system in the transition from the High Middle to the Late Middle Age, i.e. as far back as written sources from market transitions are available. Archaic compulsory institutions – such as slavery and serfdom – were still in use in Sweden in the first half of the fourteenth century; and certainly this obstructed market development in many respects.

    The coins minted by the regents (1291–1370) appear to have often been valued at even less than the intrinsic value of the silver from which they were minted. In other words the seignorage for the minting regent was negative, a phenomenon that is almost impossible to explain in economic terms. That paradox is even more difficult to comprehend in light of the fact that the production of Swedish pences was considerable during the fourteenth century, and had been ongoing since the 1150s. Sweden is no exception in the European story of the Late Middle demographic and agricultural crises after a surge that had been going on at least since the year 1000. The devastation of farms in Sweden was extensive between 1350 and 1450.

    The source material prior to 1370 consist of roughly 10,000 charters, on the basis of which some 2,500 market transactions have been found and recorded in a relational database. In addition, approximately 39,000 individuals were mentioned by name in the Swedish charters from the eleventh century to 1375 and 1401–1420, and these names have also been downloaded into the database. Of those personal rows a great majority are from the upper strata; 9 % are women. However, after the outbreak of the Black Death in 1350 the percentage of women went below 10 % and stabilized around 8 %. I hypothesize that the downward trend was a sign that women were hit harder than men by the frequent outbreaks of the plague.

    There are clear signs of more market relations and fewer compulsory institutions between 1290 and 1370. Most of the market transactions were of two kinds: purchases of real property and loans in which the creditor’s claim was guaranteed in real property. Pawned property, as expected, had a lower value than property on the buying and selling market. Only half of those transactions are described in monetary units of value, with weighted silver being the second most frequent price tag. We find women active in those transactions from the thirteenth century, but the trend has a downward slope, especially in the role as buyer of landed property.

    This is in accordance with the view that the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation in the sixteenth century were preceded by a protracted period of increasing patriarchal trends. The many and severe outbreaks of the plagues in Sweden might have aggravated those tendencies. So while there was greater freedom thanks to bigger and new kinds of markets, there were also opposing forces of misogyny creating obstacles for women’s taking advantage of that freedom.

    The Swedish coins had very divergent contents of silver, and new coins generally had less intrinsic silver value than the older ones. Those factors make it more difficult to carry out price history on the period between 1290 and 1370 than on the fifteenth century, when Swedish pences were more stable. Southern Sweden was quicker to develop towards a more commercial society than the northern part of the country. Land prices in southeastern Sweden (Östergötland) seem to have fallen between 1300 and 1370. The deflation in this respect is even greater when monetary prices are converted into silver prices. In the same period, prices in the provinces around Lake Mälaren seem to have soared. In the north in the fourteenth century there was still a lot of land for reclamation and these opportunities might have attracted aristocratic investors with expectations of major profits in the future. The inflation of the land “bubble” in the north continued for two decades, even after the arrival of the Black Death. In spite of the clerical ban on usury at the time, I have been able to reconstruct a dozen rates of interests from the period 1322–1370. The average interest rate during these years was 5 %.

    Data from this study has been put into an international perspective about human wealth. Swedish Medieval grain prices in silver from 1291 to 1530 were distinctly lower and more volatile than the prices in the more advanced European economies such as England. Low grain prices are a sign of an underdeveloped and not very diversified economy, and the general volatility made any craft outside the agrarian sector a lot more risky an activity in Sweden than in most other countries. In the late Medieval Age there was a clear development in trade and mining, but the economic gap relative to the outside world around did not decrease. This underlines the impression of a primitive society on the periphery of Europe and lagging behind the economic times.

    One can hardly underestimate the positive role of money as a source of information and means of payment in the markets. From a classic point of view (Eli F. Heckscher), it is presumed that markets came first, money second. From an institutional point of view (C. A. E. Goodhart) money and markets are parallel. The Swedish empirical example gives us a third scenario, i.e. the existence of coins for many generations before markets of any magnitude were created.

    Key words: Microeconomics, Monetary Theory, Intrinsic Silver Value, Seignorage, Unit of Account, Means of Transactions, Compulsory Institutions, Commercialization, Market Institutions, Prosopography, Women Participation in Markets, Patriarchate, Inflation and Deflation.

  • 1998. Bo Franzén, Maria Ågren.
Show all publications by Bo Franzén at Stockholm University

Last updated: March 26, 2018

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