Freedoms Price: Serfdom, Subjection, and Reform in Prussia, 1648-1848

Hardcover | November 17, 2013

byS. A. Eddie

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It is usually claimed that serfs were oppressed and unfree, but is this assumption true? Freedom's Price, building on a new reading of archival material, attempts a fundamental re-appraisal of the continuing orthodoxy that a "serf" economy embodied peasant exploitation. It reveals that, infact, Prussian "subject" peasants fared much better than their "free" neighbours; they had mutual rights and obligations with nobles and the state.In this volume, Sean Eddie seeks to establish the true "price of freedom" paid by the peasants both in the so-called Second Serfdom around 1650 and in the enfranchisement of 1807-21. Far from representing further exploitation, the peasants drove a hard bargain, and many nobles subsequently faredworse than their tenants; subjection was abolished and land ownership was transferred from noble to peasant. Capital was therefore at the centre of the pre-capitalist economy, and the growing economic polarization of society owed more to the peasants' access to capital than to noble exploitation. Bylocating Prussian serfdom and reforms in a pan-European context, and within debates about the nature of economic development, feudalism, and capitalism, Freedom's Price targets a wider audience of early modern and modern European historians, economic historians, and interested generalreaders.

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It is usually claimed that serfs were oppressed and unfree, but is this assumption true? Freedom's Price, building on a new reading of archival material, attempts a fundamental re-appraisal of the continuing orthodoxy that a "serf" economy embodied peasant exploitation. It reveals that, infact, Prussian "subject" peasants fared much be...

Sean Eddie was educated in history at the Edinburgh Academy and Trinity College, Cambridge, and in economics in the City of London. Returning to Trinity, in 2008 he completed a PhD combining the two. This is his first book.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:374 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.98 inPublished:November 17, 2013Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199662754

ISBN - 13:9780199662753

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Table of Contents

List of TablesCurrencies, Weights and MeasuresAcknowledgementsMaps1. IntroductionPart One: The Manorial Economy2. The Konservation Conjecture3. Capital, The Mainspring of Prussian 'Feudalism'4. The Onset of the Manorial System in Prussia5. Peasant Wealth: Bust Turns to Boom6. Peasant Poverty: A Tale of Two CyclesPart Two: Reform7. Twilight of the Lords: the October Edict of 18078. The 1811 Edict: Nobles Enfranchised and Enraged?9. The Limits of State Power: the 1816 Compromise with RealityPart Three: Conclusion10. The Significance of the Reforms11. The Reforms in ContextEpilogueBibliographyIndex