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How to transform peasants into seamen: the manning of the Swedish navy and a double-faced maritime culture
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
2015 (English)In: International Journal of Maritime History, ISSN 0843-8714, Vol. 27, no 4, 696-707 p.Article in journal (Refereed) PublishedText
Abstract [en]

During the seventeenth century Sweden rapidly changed from a small insignificant country in Europe's northern periphery to a great military power. The navy was a crucial part of the expansion, but to maintain a standing navy was a demanding task for a comparatively poor and sparsely populated country. One of many difficulties was to recruit skilled and competent seamen. Sweden had no large merchant fleet that could serve the navy with experienced men, and to hire professional crews would have been too expensive. The solution was to recruit poor men from the lower strata of society in coastal villages and towns through what is known as the allotment system (in Swedish: indelningsverket). Those men normally had very little experience of handling large sailing vessels but were soon trained for the task. Once conscripted in the navy they lived two lives. In the summer during the sailing season they were naval seamen. During winter they became farmhands, workers and craftsmen ashore. Thus they constructed a maritime culture of their own, with ideals and values that sometimes were closely linked to a broader maritime culture in Europe and sometimes had more in common with a Swedish rural community culture. This article investigates how this maritime/rural culture was shaped; to what extent the seamen adjusted themselves to a military order and finally what happened when the seamen's values and ideas collided with the hierarchy and power relations within the navy.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sage Publications, 2015. Vol. 27, no 4, 696-707 p.
Keyword [en]
Maritime culture, power relations, seventeenth century, Swedish navy
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-114642DOI: 10.1177/0843871415610103ISI: 000367254700006OAI: diva2:897394
Available from: 2016-01-25 Created: 2016-01-25 Last updated: 2016-01-25Bibliographically approved

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Hammar, AnnaSara
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Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies
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