Karl XI receives the authority for reduction

to map

1682

The kings authority could not be challenged and opposing the reduction grew increasingly harder. At first the reduction applied only to those lands granted to the nobility by the Swedish state itself. There were many of these sort of estates in Livonia and it was there where the opposition became the strongest. Karl XI reacted to the opposition by demanding, that the lands issued before the Swedish era, would be subject to reduction as well. And so, 80% of the estates in Livonia, 54% in Estonia and 30% in Saaremaa were reduced.
With the reduction, control was gained over the estates in the Baltics. The estates were not divided up, as in Sweden, but instead, rented to their former owners. Also, a part of the estates profits had to be paid to the kingdom as rent. The reduction also changed the status of private estates, which were reverted back to feudal right. Transactions regarding estates had to be permitted by the king. The rent paid by reduced estates was used to cover the governing expenses of the provinces, and some money was left over for schools and churches. Sweden's national profit increased notably due to the reductions.
Because a large part of the estate lands went back to the kingdom, the estate owners' power over the peasants diminished and the situation of the latter improved. The peasants of the nationalised estates were told, that they were now the subjects of the king and therefore were, in a way, freed from slavery. As the kingdom wanted a decent and constant income from its lands, it started to evaluate and map the land, so that dues could be demanded corresponding to the farms capabilities. To write down these dues, specific reference books were taken into use, to prevent over taxation by the estate owners. Peasants of the nationalised estates were subjected to the national courts instead of the nobility ones. In Livonia, the proceedings concerning the peasants were moved to the hands of state officials, the bailiffs. The peasants received the right to complain about the law breaking estate owners, and several took their cases before the king in Stockholm, because the local Baltic Germans were not trusted. These changes laid the foundations for the later used term "good old Swedish times".

Image: coat of arms of the Governorate of Livonia

Source: Ain Mäesalu, Tõnis Lukas, Mati Laur, Tõnu Tannberg. Eesti ajalugu I. Avita, Tallinn 1995
Image source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/archive/1/11/20091020051458!%D0%9B%D0%B8%D1%84%D0%BB%D1%8F%D0%BD%D0%B4%D1%81%D0%BA%D0%B0%D1%8F_%D0%B3%D1%83%D0%B1%D0%B5%D1%80%D0%BD%D0%B8%D1%8F.png


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