Bondelensmennene i Trondheim len på 1500-tallet. Antall, status, funksjon og avlønning
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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OriginalversjonHeimen - Lokal og regional historie. 2013, 50 (4), 341-355.
The position as lensmann goes back to the Middle Ages, when the lensmann’s main task was to collect taxes on behalf of the sysselmann (the leading crown-officer in the county). In the Late Middle Ages, the lensmann’s main responsibility was the local administration of justice. Amongst other tasks, he played a central role in taking evidence and documenting property dispositions. In respect of Trøndelag, the source material from around the time of the Reformation is thin. A recently published witnessed document from 1547 that names 13 lensmenn is therefore an important addition. With this source as a starting point, central issues pertaining to this office are discussed. These concern the numbers of lensmenn, their social status, their function in the local society and their remuneration. The investigation shows that the number of lensmenn increased sharply around 1600, which is probably related to the introduction of a professional district judge, called sorenskriver (sworn writer) and the development of a stronger state administration. Generally, the lensmenn of the 1500s were relatively wealthy and lived on good farms. Their remuneration was primarily negative in that the lensmenn were exempted from paying tax and probably also tithes. The exemption from tax became of greater economic significance as heavier taxes were levied over the course of the 1600s. In the 1500s, it was not usual for the office to be passed down from father to son.