Denmark: Vornedskab

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Vornedskab is the description for the duty which was placed on farmers on Sjælland, Lolland and Falster along with islands belonging to this archipelago to remain on the estate on which they were born and to take over eventual prospective derelict farms as a copyholder. This arrangement was in effect from the close of the 14th century in order to secure farm labor because of depopulation caused by the Black Death.

Vornedskabet was first mentioned in 1446, but had by the end of the 15th century developed to the point where an estate Lord could sell farmers living on his estate. This was subsequently forbidden by Christian 2nd as being “mean and unchristian”. Women were not bound by vorneskabet.

As a practical matter the vornede were often able to move to a city, without being called back. And in 1542 the vornede, when they had lived in the city for three years, were exempt from duty.

Christian 4th sought in 1634 to eliminate vornedskabet, but run into opposition by the aristocracy. In the 1660 session of parliament the question was again brought up by Christian 5th and again in 1682. In 1696 vorneskabet was abolished on the island of Møn and in 1702 on the other islands for the farmers who were born after Frederik 4th ascension to the crown (1699). But this regulation was replaced 31 years later, because of the possibility of doing conscription of soldiers, from adscription records, which became law throughout Denmark.

References

From the Danish Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia at: http://da.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forside