Setesvein

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Setesvein or setesvenn is the name of medieval and pre-reformatory armed pages who acted as local representatives of a bishop or of a feudal lord in Norway. Setesveins between 1350 and 1537 are commonly associated with the Catholic Archbishop, on whose behalf they exercised administrative and military functions in their respective districts. Clerical setesveins were especially numerous in Northern Norway, where they constitute an important part of the regional upper class history.

Etymology and definition[edit]

The word setesvein consists of sete, meaning 'seat, residence', and svein, meaning 'young servant' or 'page'. It descends from Old Norwegian setusveinn. Under Danish influence, the word was spelled sædesvend, from which the modern, but today less used form setesvenn derives. Whilst svein is considered as Norwegian Nynorsk and svenn is mainly used in Norwegian Bokmål (including Riksmål), the form setesvein is predominant in both languages.

In general, a svein or a huskarl (housecarl) was a page residing at a court, whilst a setesvein was attached to a court, but had his own residence; thus the word sete. Johan Fritzner's dictionary of Old Norwegian defines a setusveinn as a housecarl who is in the service of a lendman or of a bishop without living at his master's residence or court.[1]

Among other places, setesveins are mentioned in several Diplomatarium Norvegicum documents and in the Codex of the Hird. Examples are:

  • RB 7119: þeir sem Noregs konungar hafa áðr leitt í sínum lögum nökkura setusveina at hafa
  • DN III, 477 (35812): engin várra skal fleiri húskarla ok setusveina hafa en sem lögbók ok hirðskrá vátta
  • DN VIII, 592 (58323)
  • DN IX, 69413: alle the knaber therinde och sædescwenne

History[edit]

Until 1350[edit]

A svein was originally an armed page who was in the service of and resided at the court of a chieftain.[2] Subsequently, they separated into a secular and a clerical section. In the High Medieval Age (1130–1350) and in the Late Medieval Age (1350–1537), a page was normally one who had entered the court of a bishop or of a feudal lord. It was customary that young men of lower nobility and of local and wealthy families served at the court of the Archbishop (as a svein) until returning to his district, where he acted as his lord's representative (as a setesvein).

In Celestine III's papal bull of 15 June 1194, secular officers of the Archbishop received freedom from all taxes and military duties. According to the Sættargjerd of 1277 (a concordat between the Church and the King), which was approved by Pope Gregory X, the Archbishop had the right to have 100 setesveins,[citation needed] and this without paying taxes. Likewise, each bishop could have 40 setesveins.[citation needed]

In the years of the Black Death (c. 1348–1353), setesveins in the service of secular noblemen (knights) were placed under the direct control of the King. This represented the end of group of secular setesveins.

1350–1537[edit]

In the Late Middle Ages, clerical setesveins were seated mainly along the coast, from Sogn in Western Norway to Finnmark in Northern Norway.[3] Their function was to administer the Archbishop's estate, for example by collecting taxes.[3] In addition, they traded, partly themselves and partly on behalf of the Archbishop.[3] In the 1530s, there were at least 69 setesveins in Norway, whereof 49 in Northern Norway.[3] The reason for their numerous presence in this region were the important fisheries and the thereto belonging export to Continental Europe.

Whilst they were not noble ex officio, setesveins had, in general, the same social and economical position as lower nobility.[3] It is known that a few setesveins received 'noble freedom' from the Archbishop.[4] Clerical setesveins were recruited mainly among lower nobility and very wealthy farmers.[citation needed]

Alike the nobility, setesveins enjoyed full tax freedom for their seat farms. They had freedom from leidang (military service); however, the Archbishop could order them into military service for the Archdiocese.

After the Reformation in 1537, when the Archbishop went into exile and the Catholic Church of Norway was dissolved and replaced by the Church of Norway, setesveins lost the legal foundation on which their positions rested. Furthermore, King Christian III and his soldiers raided the coast, punishing and confiscating goods of setesveins who had supported the Archbishop.[3]

After 1537[edit]

In the following years, most setesveins continued being traders and shippers.[3] Some of them apparently remained local representatives of the Church,[3] now under the new, Lutheran Superintendent and the canons in Nidaros. Members of this class of ex-setesveins were known as pages (Norwegian: knape, knabe; lit. 'boy') and are today known under the non-official term page nobility (Norwegian: knapeadel, knabeadel). They were part of the upper social class in Northern Norway in the 16th and 17th centuries,[3] and several Nordland families descend from them. Their social significance and their impact on culture have been considerable in the region.

Information and statistics[edit]

In a list of 1533, named Sancte Oluffz domkirkis Szeteswenne (Setesveins of the Cathedral of St. Olaf), one finds that Olav Engelbrektsson, Archbishop of Nidaros had 69 setesveins.[3] Ending with 'etc.', the list is apparently incomplete.

1533 list: Statistics[edit]

Region District Number Ref.
Northern Norway Finnmark 18 [3]
Troms and Senja 16 [3]
Vesterålen and Lofoten 5 [3]
Salten and Helgeland 10 [3]
Central Norway Fosen 3
Gauldalen 1
Western Norway Nordmøre 2
Romsdal 1
Nordfjord 1
Sogn 1
Eastern Norway Gudbrandsdalen 1
Opplanda 9
Overseas Iceland 2

1533 list: Names and places[edit]

The following list is based mainly on Ludvig Ludvigsen Daae's presentation of the 1533 list of setesveins. The presentation is a part of an article named Den Throndhjemske Erkestols Sædesvende og Frimænd (1890). Daae's presentation contains additional comments and references. These are not included in the list below.

Name
(original orthography)
Name
(modern or alternative orthography)
Place
(original orthography)
Place
(modern orthography)
Comments Ref.
Mogns Laffrinsen Mons Lavransson Wordøyn Vardøya [5]
Halword Søgnn Hallvard — Wordøyn Vardøya The list contains further information. [5]
Henrick Ysackson Henrik Isaksson Wordøyn Vardøya [5]
Oluff Keelsson Olav Kjellsson Matkowr Makkaur [5]
Erlend Skott Erlend Skotte Umgong Omgang 'Skott' means 'man from Scotland'. [5]
Peder Iffversson Per Ivarsson Umgong Omgang His name is struck out in the list. [5]
Jon Goutisonn Jon Gauteson Skitningsberg Skjøtningsberg [5]
Oluf Alffzon Olav Alvsson Skitningsberg Skjøtningsberg The list contains further information. [5]
Reider Andersonn Reidar Andersson Kelwiken Kjelvika [5]
Lasse Jute Lasse Jyde Tuffuenes Tunes 'Jute' means 'man from Jutland'. [5]
Laffrens Bentsson Lavrans Bentsson Tuffuenes Tunes His name is struck out in the list. [5]
Welick Tuffuenes Tunes His name is struck out in the list. [5]
Saxe Helmisøynn Hjelmsøya [5]
Mogns Olufson Mons Olavsson Ingen Ingøya [5]
Stein Halvordson Stein Hallvarsson Ingen Ingøya [5]
Andor Siurdson Andor Sjursson Søderwer Sørvær [5]
Peder Booson Søderwer Sørvær [5]
Jacop Jakop Søderwer Sørvær [5]
Peder Hemmingson Per Hemmingsson Trumsen Troms The list contains further information. [6]
Matz Scriffuer Mats Skriver Trumsen Troms 'Scriffwer', with other spellings, is a family name and a profession meaning 'writer'.
The list contains further information.
[6]
Torstein Engelbretson Torstein Engelbrektsson Trumsen Troms A brother of Archbishop Olav Engelbrektsson. [6]
Jon Skarffw Jon Skarv Trumsen Troms His name is struck out in the list. [6]
Ammund Amund Trumsen Troms [6]
Oluf Ericsonn Olav Eiriksson Trumsen Troms Apparently added to the list later.
The list contains further information.
[6]
Aslak Engelbrictson Aslak Engelbrektsson Trondenes Trondenes The list contains further information.
A brother of Archbishop Olav Engelbrektsson.
[6]
Oluf Tordson Olav Tordsson Trondenes Trondenes [6]
Oluf Engelbrictson Olav Engelbrektsson Trondenes, Roglen Trondenes, Rogla [6]
Oluf Amundson Olav Amundsson Trondenes Trondenes [6]
Nils Seborg Trondenes Trondenes His name is struck out in the list. [6]
Oluf Halvordson Olav Hallvardsson Trondenes Trondenes His name is struck out in the list. [6]
Lasse Jenson Lasse Jensson Trondenes Trondenes The list contains further information. [6]
Oluf Halvordson Olav Hallvardsson Torsken Torsken [6]
Nils Seborgh [6]
Jens Jwte Jens Jute 'Jwte' means 'man from Jutland'. [6]
Oluf Person Olav Persson Andenes Andenes [6]
Rasmus Scriffwer Rasmus Skriver Westeraalen Vesterålen 'Scriffwer', with other spellings, is a family name and a profession meaning 'writer'. [6]
Sylvester Sylvester Lofothen Lofoten The list contains further information. [6]
Jens Nilsson Jens Nilsson Røster Røst [6]
Iver Jonson Ivar Jonsson Løddingen Lødingen [6]
Jon Haagenson Jon Håkonsson Salten Salten [7]
Nils Degen Nils Degn Salten Salten 'Degen' means 'deacon'. [7]
Knudt Torleffzon Knut Torleivsson Salten Salten [7]
Jens Jwte Jens Jute Salten Salten 'Jwte' means 'man from Jutland'.
The list contains further information.
[7]
Steffan Anderson Steffan Andersson Gildeskaalen Gildeskål The list contains further information. [7]
Michil Teyste Mikkel Teiste Rødøyn Rødøy Teiste was a noble family. [7]
Peder Gouteson Per Gauteson Rødøyn Rødøy The list contains further information. [7]
Stig Stig Rødøyn, Nesøyn Rødøy, Nesøya The list contains further information. [7]
Olwff Kuse Olav Kusse Alstehough Alstahaug Kusse was a noble family.
The list contains further information.
[7]
Nils Smydht Nils Smidt Alstehough Altstahaug 'Smidt', with other spellings, is a family name meaning 'smith'. [7]
Anders Amundson Anders Amundsson Fosen Fosen [7]
Jacob Syndmør Fosen Fosen The list contains further information. [7]
Haftor Keelson Havtor Kjellsson Fosen Fosen The list contains further information. [7]
Nils Nils Qvernes, Ykersøyn Kvernes, Ekkilsøy The list contains further information. [7]
Nils Benctson Nils Bentsson Qvernes Kvernes [7]
Elef Eiliv Søndmør, Sunnes Sunnmøre, ... The list contains further information. [8]
Esbjørn Erichsen Asbjørn Eiriksson Romsdalen Romsdalen The list contains further information. [8]
Jens Klokkegyther Nordfjord Nordfjord [8]
Gunnar Ragnesson Gunnar Ragneson Sogn Sogn [8]
Erik Eirik Gouldalen, Vinsnes Gauldalen, Vinsnes The list contains further information. [8]
Erre Doffre Dovre [8]
Østen Kloot Øystein — [8]
Oluf Siurdsøn Olav Sjursson Haghe  ? [8]
Oluff Olav [8]
Henning Munk Henning Munk Lwm Lom The list contains further information. [8]
Tord Vidersonn Tord Vidarsson His name is struck out in the list.
The list contains further information.
[8]
Endrit Jensson Eindride Jensson The list says 'Endrit Jensson Anno MDXXXV'. [9]
Søffwerin Søren Gyle  ? The list contains further information. [9]
Oluff Lagmand Olav lagmann (Norwegian)
Ólafur lögmaður (Icelandic)
Ysland Island A 'lagmand' was a lawspeaker. [9]
Jørgen Halsteinsson Jørgen Halsteinsson [9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Fritzner: setusveinn
  2. ^ Hamre (1970), p. 161.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Ytreberg (1980), p. 17.
  4. ^ Ytreberg (1980), p. 18.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Daae (1890), p. 5.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u Daae (1890), p. 6.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Daae (1890), p. 7.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Daae (1890), p. 8.
  9. ^ a b c d Daae (1890), p. 9.

Literature[edit]

  • Benedictow, O. J. & Mykland, Knut (1977). Norges historie 5 : Fra rike til provins 1448–1536. ISBN 978-82-02-03429-0. 
  • Daae, Ludvig Ludvigsen: Den Throndhjemske Erkestols Sædesvende og Frimænd, pp. 1–27 in the Historisk Tidsskrift, vol, III, series 1. Kristiania, 1890.
  • Hamre, Lars: Setesvein, pp. 161–164 in Kulturhistorisk leksikon for nordisk middelalder, vol. 15. Copenhagen, 1970.
  • Sigurðsson, Jón Viðar (1999). Norsk historie 800–2000 : Norsk historie 1300–1625 : eit rike tek form. ISBN 978-82-521-5545-7. 
  • Ytreberg, Nils Andreas (1980). Nordlandske handelssteder : virke, hverdag, reiseliv, fest. ISBN 978-82-7028-460-3.