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Gabriela Bjarne Larsson


A selection from Stockholm University publication database

  • Good for business

    2020. Gabriela Bjarne Larsson. Nordic Inheritance Law through the Ages, 92-113


    In “Good for Business: Joint Property and Equal Inheritance in Burgher Marriages in Stockholm, 1480–1530,” Gabriela Bjarne Larsson argues that certainregulations in the Swedish Town Law facilitated devolutions and were used by burghers in Stockholm to promote business. She demonstrates that it was easy for spouses in the town to transfer lineal property from the male to the female line, something that, according to the Swedish Law of the Realm and in practice, was impossible to do in a rural marriage. The transactions made by husband and wife during the 1480s and 1520s in the town of Stockholm demonstrate a strong marital unit that always favoured the nuclear family – which in effect also meant their business – over their relatives. In the case of a death, the accumulated property of the partnership continued to be managed by the surviving spouse, even if he or she remarried. This, again, was out of the question for a widow in a rural setting.

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  • Det öppna fönstret

    2019. Gabriela Bjarne Larsson.


    The Open Window: Inheritance and Property in Stockholm, 1479–1530

    This book investigates how women and men handled property in the town of Stockholm during the period 1479–1530. Property relationships between spouses, between kin and non-kin, and between the individual and religious houses in town are studied. Emphasise is placed on to what extent wives in Stockholm managed or actively disposed of the property held in marriage. The results confers to the author’s earlier findings on property relationships for nobles and freeholders, following the Swedish Land Law.

    Important findings are that the spouses owned the household’s property jointly, even lineal property brought to the marriage, although Swedish Town Law stipulated to keep them apart in the marriage, as was the case in the countryside. Other results that contradicted the Town law was the mandatory consent that the husband had to obtain from his wife when wanting to dispose of any of the household’s immovable property. The abolished right for relatives living outside Stockholm to claim birthright to real estate in town; the precedence the spouses’ household took over their respective relatives’ claims on lineal property.

    Despite the wife’s equal share to the household’s real property her possibilities to handle real estate within the marriage was limited. Her rights to manage movable property was on the other hand equal to her husband. In the absence of direct descendants, the tendency was to strengthen the surviving spouse’s claim at the expense of the deceased’s relatives. The city had an elaborate system for establishing guardianship for orphaned children of city burghers; the city also was administratively prepared when dealing with remarriages, which was not as common in the countryside.

    All these alterations of former practice and deviations from law regulations are interpreted by the author as promoting the circulation of wealth between burghers, excluding others, and thus promoting business in Stockholm.

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  • Wives or Widows and their Representatives

    2012. Gabriela Bjarne Larsson. Scandinavian Journal of History 37 (1), 49-68


    The main purpose of this article is to scrutinize the opportunities married women had to administer their inheritance and reversions compared to widows' opportunities to administer their inheritance, dower and share from the former marriage. It has been claimed that medieval women had to wait until they were widowed to take charge over their own property. In this article I challenge this view. I argue that a noble woman's opportunities to act independently depended on the origins of the property she wanted to sell, and if male representatives from that family laid claim to the land or not.

    I investigate all written transactions carried out by freeholders and transactions carried out by noble families in two different regions in present-day Sweden during the period from 1300 to 1500. I establish in what type of transactions the women stood as sole executors in the charters, and if they were named as wives or as widows. I also investigate if they participated in varied forms of transactions when widowed compared to when they were in marriage.

    The principal result is that the wife of a freeholder did not execute deeds herself. This was done by her husband or, when she was young, by her brother. It was extremely rare that a woman of this status administered her inheritance herself, due to the stronger pre-emptive rights for men besides the brother in Jämtland. As wealthy widows, however, women in this position sometimes executed deeds, presumably because their brothers were dead. Noble women administered their property more frequently. Their pre-emptive rights were stronger and they therefore had more property to dispose of. In the absence of men from the noble family from where the land originated, noble women could act independently, irrespective of if they were widows or wives.

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