The Economic History Review

Occupational structure in the Czech lands under the second serfdom

Volume 69 Issue 2
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Pages: 493-521Authors: Alexander Klein, Sheilagh Ogilvie
Published online: June 29, 2015DOI: 10.1111/ehr.12118

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This article presents an analysis of occupational structure, a key component of the ‘Little Divergence’, in an eastern-central European economy under the second serfdom, using data on 6,983 Bohemian villages in 1654. Non-agricultural activity was lower than in western Europe, but varied positively with village size, pastoral agriculture, sub-peasant strata, Jews, freemen, female headship, and mills, and negatively with arable agriculture and towns. It showed a curvilinear relationship with the ‘second serfdom’, as proxied by landlord presence on village holdings. Landlord presence in serf villages also reversed the positive effects of female headship and mills on non-agricultural activities. Under the second serfdom, landlords encouraged serf activities from which they could extract rents, while stifling others which threatened manorial interests.