Edvardsson Ragnar, The role of marine resources in the medieval economy of Vestfirdir, Iceland

Edvardsson Ragnar, The role of marine resources in the medieval economy of Vestfirdir, Iceland, Thèse de doctorat soutenue en 2010, (dir. T.H. McGovern, City University of New York)

Résumé/abstract :

Vestfirdir became a stagnant and backwater region of Iceland following the social and political changes in the 17th century that crippled the Icelandic economy. For the next two hundred years people in Vestfirdir struggled to survive but at the end of the 19th century the regional economy began to recover and living standards in the region improved. However, these impoverished years in the history of Vestfirdir have always influenced the historical view of the region. Both scholars and laymen alike believed Vestfirdir to have been consistently poor from the beginning of the settlement to the present day. Archaeological and historical data now contradict these ideas and suggest that through most of its history the region based its income primarily on marine resources and supplied the remainder of Iceland with marine products not readily available elsewhere. Vestfirdir was settled at the same time as other regions of Iceland and soon after settlement the region developed a specialized fishing industry, focusing on the production of skreiđ (dried fish) for both Icelandic and European markets. In the Medieval and early modern periods Vestfirdir gained wealth from trade with foreigners which made it one of the richest region of Iceland. The work presented here contradicts the idea of a stagnant and unchanging society and gives a new perspective of a diverse and flexible society, built around the marine resources, which were the key to the success of the settlement in Vestfirdir.

[Source : http://gradworks.umi.com/33/96/3396427.html]


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