A Windfall for the Magnates. The Development of Woodland Ownership in Denmark c. 1150-1830

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Property rights, that is the legitimate behavioural relations pertaining to the use of scarce resources, has concerned all past societies as acutely as they do our time. At a regional level, Danish woods stood for resource scarcity - whether real or imagined - at least since the middle ages. But their resource nature was all but simple. Rather, they represented a bundle of ‘resource layers' such as pasture, leaf fodder, beech nuts and acorns eaten by the pigs, hunting, timber, fuel wood, coppice, potential cultivation and even social standing. And this complexity was amply reflected in the property structure. This book examines the development of woodland ownership from the middle ages until the first half of the nineteenth century. Not the juridical ideals of woodland property but the realities of diverging property concepts as they present themselves in legislation, trials and other legal documents. In broad outlines the development describes a transition from feudal commonage to individual, private ownership. But the course was not without deviations. And even the capitalist land ownership that forms the end result is essentially ambiguous.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationOdense
PublisherSyddansk Universitetsforlag
Number of pages432
ISBN (Print)8778389364
Publication statusPublished - 2004

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